Carlson has career night as Runnin’ Utes pull away from Cougars in home win


Branden Carlson, 35, of the Utah State Center shoots forward DJ Rodman, 11, of the Washington State Cougars on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023 at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

Estimated duration: 3-4 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Branden Carlson didn’t need to say anything, but he was looking to prove himself the best seven-foot center on the court Thursday night.

And after just half a play, it was clear Carlsson had succeeded in his job.

Carlsson did not miss a shot throughout the first half.

His second half was less dominant, but Carlson finished with a career and game-high 28 points and 8 rebounds in a 77-63 Utah win over the visiting Washington State Cougars at the Huntsman Center.

For much of the first half, Utah (13-7, 6-3 Pac-12) played in sync, shooting the ball well (55% from the field) and building a 10-point lead over the visiting Cougars. rice field. He suffered a hand injury three games in a row and was without leading scorer TJ Bamba. For a while, though, Utah settled for a bad shot from behind the perimeter, allowing Washington State to creep into the game.

The Cougars went 12-2 in the four-minute stretch to tie the first half at 29 with 2:54 remaining, but Utah head coach Craig Smith joined Carlson’s Big Big lineup. and Keba Keita, and it worked wonders.

The duo posed a defensive challenge to Washington State (9-11, 4-5 Pac-12). Washington often sent Carlson to work. He won over and over again. Utah was 10 points behind the post in the first half, largely thanks to Carlson’s dominance.

Utah built a 14-point lead early in the second half, but Washington State slowly took the lead as Utah again settled into a bad shot and got out of sync with Carlson off the floor. Washington State narrowed Utah’s lead to 5 with just under 10 minutes left, but Gabe Madsen came off the screen Carlson set and hit a three-point shot to straighten the ship.

The Runnin’ Utes then built another double-digit lead for a long time, but Washington State never quite made it.

Carlsson had a good night overall, but Guay went to work in the second half to keep the team in contention. The sophomore center scored 7 points in the first half, but finished with a team-high 20 points and even rebounds. Guay took some time to heat up, but that was why Utah couldn’t quite pull away in the second half.

Guay was joined in double figures by Jabe Mullins, who had 11 points and four rebounds, and Justin Powell, who had 10 points, four rebounds and four assists.

Laurie Wurster had 14 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds. Gabe Madsen scored 12 points on 4/8 shooting from 3-point range in the Utes victory.

This story will be updated.

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Josh is KSL.com’s Director of Sports and beat writer for University of Utah Athletics (primarily soccer, men’s basketball, and gymnastics). He is also his Associated Press Top 25 voter for college football.

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