Drca helps Utah pull away from Wyoming 74-64

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah's basketball team has taken on the persona of Coach Jim Boylen this year. They are scrappy, tough and they battle hard. Saturday night was no exception as the Utes played a gritty game and came out with a 74-64 win over Wyoming in Salt Lake City.

The Runnin' Utes were lead by seasoned Senior guard Luka Drca, who scored 17 points and grabbed six rebounds. Drca came up big late for the Utes, scoring 10 of his points in the last six minutes of the contest to hold off the pesky Cowboys.

In their match-up earlier this season in Laramie, Utah's Junior guard Carlon Brown scored a career-high 31 points only to come up short in a 75-69 loss. On Saturday, Wyoming's Freshman Desmar Jackson copied Brown's performance, scoring exactly a career-high 31 points in a loss. The Utes couldn't find a way to stop him all night.

"Jackson is a very tough match-up for us," Coach Boylen said. "What a terrific Freshman he is for our league."

Red-shirt Freshman guard Chris Hines came in and played the best defense on Jackson, according to Boylen. His stiff defense even lead to a little scuffle between he and Jackson with just under eight minutes to go in the second half. While Hines was playing defense right up into Jackson, Jackson tried to use his elbows to create space. Hines took exception to the love tap and both players started to jaw at one another and were both awarded technical fouls. The players were separated and the teams gathered at their benches because of timeout that was called.

Coach Boylen liked his reserve guard's feisty play, "It helped our guys, they were jacked up in the huddle."

Luka Drca was asked many times to attempt to stop Jackson throughout the game. "It was hard, he was on fire," said Drca, "but he missed big shots at the end of the game, so we won."

Wyoming seemed to put all their eggs in the Desmar Jackson basket Saturday night because no other Cowboy scored in double-digits. Adam Waddell chipped in with nine points, but he only two rebounds, 20 less than he had in the previous match-up with Utah.

The Utes had contributions from everybody, from seasoned upperclassmen to young Freshmen. Junior guard Carlon Brown slashed his way to the hoop and made buckets. Brown ended the game with 16 points and four assists. Kim Tillie played a scrappy game down low scoring six points and snatched seven rebounds.

Shawn Glover, a Freshman guard/forward, started his eleventh game of the season, helping the Runnin' Utes get a fast start. Glover scored all 10 of his points in the first half and gave Utah a jump start in the first few minutes with an early three-pointer and ally-op throw down. Hines ended the game with seven points and one steal. Sophomore big man David Foster continues to be a defensive presence for the Utes. Foster blocked a shot and had one steal to go along with his five points and four rebounds.

Coach Boylen likes the progress the his younger players are making at this point in the season, giving him more options in the rotation.

"The only way they are going to grow is if they play in the street and you just have to hope they don't get run over," said Boylen concerning the growth of his young players.

"The only way they are going to grow is if they play in the street and you just have to hope they don't get run over," said Boylen concerning the growth of his young players.

One of Boylen's top Freshman, Marshall Henderson, had a poor performance Saturday night, shooting 1-6 from the floor and 0-3 from 3pt-range, finishing the game with a lowly two points.

Boylen looked on the bright side of Henderson's poor night, "It's growth for this team when we can do without a big night from Henderson," Boylen said.

The win Saturday night was the second of the week for the Utes, who beat Air Force on the road Wednesday. The two wins pushed the Runnin' Utes record back to .500 in conference play and overall. The Utes win, coupled with a Colorado State loss to TCU in Ft. Worth Saturday, breaks the fifth place tie in the Mountain West Conference standings. The Utes now own sole possession of the fifth spot and if the MWC tournament started today Utah would play San Diego State in the first round.

The Utes next game is next Wednesday at the Huntsman Center against arch-rival BYU. Utah will celebrate Senior night as it is the last home game of the season for the Runnin' Utes. There are only two Seniors on the Utah roster this year, Luka Drca and Kim Tillie.

Tip off is scheduled for 7:00pm MT.

(AP) -- Luka Drca scored 10 of his 17 points in the final six minutes to help Utah pull away from Wyoming for a 74-64 victory Saturday.

Drca scored the Utes' last field goal, a 3-pointer with 3:58 remaining, to give them a 64-56 lead. The Utes (14-14, 7-7 Mountain West Conference) then converted 10-of-12 free throws down the stretch to secure the win.

Desmar Jackson scored a career-high 31 points for the Cowboys (9-19, 2-12), who lost their eighth straight and for the 11th time in 12 games. Wyoming's only win during that stretch was at home against Utah.

Carlon Brown scored 16 points, and Shawn Glover added 10 points as the Utes won consecutive games for the first time since early January.

Utah outrebounded Wyoming 37-26, and the Cowboys finished 1 of 13 from 3-point range.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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