Utes women’s basketball coach, Lynne Roberts, gets contract extension through 2027

Utes women’s basketball coach, Lynne Roberts, gets contract extension through 2027

SALT LAKE CITY — It didn’t take long to realize that Utah women’s basketball coach Lynne Roberts had turned around a program hoping to compete in a difficult Pac-12 Conference last season.

Through a series of recruiting moves to bolster the depth of the roster and an inward look on the program, Roberts led her team to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since the 2010-11 season. And not to be outdone by just making an appearance, her team secured a first-round win in the tournament, which was last done in 2009.

At the end of the season, Roberts’ team was even included in a way-too-early Top 25 rankings, showcasing the work that had been done to get Utah into a favorable spot heading into the next season. The Utes are making moves, and it has Roberts to thank for it.

The multi-year effort to build a competitive program worked: Roberts was awarded with a contract extension Tuesday, locking in the coach through June 2027. Utah Athletics Director Mark Harlan said it was largely due to Roberts’ “breakthrough success” over the last season, but added it was not an “overnight sensation but a reflection of the incredibly solid and healthy foundation she has established to sustain success.”

“Lynne Roberts has steadily built a championship-level winning program in the most competitive women’s basketball conference in the country, and it is imperative that we reinforce support for her and her staff with this contract extension,” Harlan said.

The contract extension, which comes a year before her previous contract expired, was years in the making. And with Roberts finally able to see her goal realized, the contract extension was an example of the belief the university has in her to keep her philosophy alive.

“I love Utah, Salt Lake City, the University of Utah, and this athletic department,” Roberts said. “Beyond that, I believe in this place: the state, the community, the university, our athletics department and its leadership. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to continue to build a women’s basketball powerhouse in the Pac-12 here at the University of Utah.

“The best is yet to come!”

Details of Roberts’ contract have not been made available at this time. Roberts last signed a contract in 2018 that went through June 2023, where she made $350,000 in base salary each season, in addition to several bonus incentives related to her team’s academic success and ability to reach the NCAA Tournament.

Tomlinson Earns Top-10 Finish at 2022 Pac-12 Championships

Tomlinson Earns Top-10 Finish at 2022 Pac-12 Championships

Tomlinson becomes just the 3rd Ute to secure a top-10 finish at the Pac-12 Championship.

SAMAMMISH, Wash. – Utah golf closed out competition at the 2022 Pac-12 Championships on Wednesday, finishing T-8th with a team score of 1463 (+43). Senior Blake Tomlinson led the Utes carding his second lowest score of the championship (70, -1) and finished the tournament with a score of 284 (E), climbing the leaderboard six spots for a T-6th finish. His 72-hole score is the third lowest at a conference championship on record at Utah.

“I’m really happy for Blake. To finish sixth in the conference championship is awesome! His week had a few ups and downs, but he fought really hard and I know it means a lot to him and our program,” head coach Garrett Clegg said. “Today we just couldn’t quite get things going. Our par five play cost us all week and today it hurt us as well. We just couldn’t seem to get out of our own way. But now we come home and wait for our NCAA Regional assignment. We have a lot to clean up in a week, but we will get to work!”

Starting on the 10th tee for the second consecutive day, Tomlinson turned in a 1-over (36) after bogeying a pair and picking up a birdie on his first nine. Making the turn, Tomlinson birdied the first but followed with a bogey two holes later to put him 1-over on the round. Tomlinson was able to dip back under par finishing strong with a birdie on the par four fifth and ninth, the hole he aced just a day ago.

Tomlinson became the third Ute to finish in the top-10 at the Pac-12 Championships, joining Mitchell Schow who finished T-8th last season and Kyler Dunkle who finished second in 2019.

Braxton Watts earned a top-30 finish, but penciled just a single birdie in his final round and would go on to post a 79 (+8) with five bogeys and two doubles on the card. Watts led the Utes for most of the tournament, but his final round would give him a tournament total of 292 (+8) and finish T-28th. This is the highest finish by a freshman in program history at the Pac-12 Championship. 

Javier Barcos endured a tough round, scrambling trying to save par but would end up tallying seven bogeys in his final round. Barcos would birdie the par five seventh and par four 17th to turn in a 76 (+5) and end the championship with a total of 294 (+10) and place T-41st.

Tristan Mandur climbed the board nine spots and carded an even par 71 in his final round to finish the championships with a score of 294 (+10), good for T-38th. Mandur started off hot with a birdie on the first three holes but would bogey the 18th to make the turn at 2-under (34). Those first three birdies were the only red numbers Mandur would collect on the day, bogeying a pair of holes on his second nine to finish level par.

Oscar Maxfield showed some consistent play over the three-day tournament and shot his second consecutive 75 (+4) to wrap up his conference championship. Maxfield started off his final round slow with a couple bogeys through the first four holes and saw a tough stretch bogeying the first three holes after making the turn. A birdie would follow on the par four fourth and would go on to par out to shoot 2-over on each nine. Maxfield finished the tournament shooting 305 (+21), good for 65th.

Martín León carded his best round of the championship, picking up four birdies, four bogeys and a dreaded triple to turn in a score of 74 (+3). Battling throughout his final round, Leon managed to shoot a 37 (+1) and 36 (+1) on each side. Overall, Leon totaled a 319 (+35) to climb one spot and finish in 70th.

The teams T-8th place finish is the second-best finish since the Utes joined the conference of champions and the team score of 1463 (+43) is the fourth-lowest at a 72-hole conference championship on record at Utah.

Up Next
All eyes now turn to the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Selection Show which will take place on May 4, at 2 p.m. MT. The show will be aired on the Golf Channel as the Utes look to make an appearance for just the fourth time in program history.

LIVE SCORING
Live scoring for the Pac-12 Championships is available on GolfStat.com. Fans can also follow along on social media (Twitter: @UtesGolf | Instagram: @UtesGolf).

Pac-12 football: Winners and losers following 5 months of transfer portal insanity

Pac-12 football: Winners and losers following 5 months of transfer portal insanity

Since the end of the regular season, 243 football players have passed through the transfer portal on their way out of or into the Pac-12.

And more could follow.

With the May 1 transfer deadline fast approaching, we expect a handful of transfers — and perhaps multiple handfuls — in the final days before the window closes.

(Players who transfer after the deadline must sit out the 2022 season or receive a waiver from the NCAA.)

Where do teams stand at this point in the transfer cycle?

Here’s our look at the winners and losers based on the latest information in the 247Sports database.

Winners

Arizona

Biggest gain: QB Jayden de Laura (from Washington State)

Biggest loss: WR Jalen Curry (to Buffalo)

Comment: The Wildcats have lost 21 players to the portal but few of significance. Meanwhile, a handful of additions could make a deep impact — not only on Arizona but on the shape of the South race. Atop the list is de Laura, of course, but he’ll have immediate help from receiver Jacob Cowing, who caught 69 passes for UTEP last season. Defensively, keep an eye on defensive end Tiaoalii Savea, a UCLA transfer and former four-star recruit who should bolster a position of extreme need.

Cal

Biggest gain: QB Jack Plummer (from Purdue)

Biggest loss: WR Nikko Remigio (to Fresno State)

Comment: Remigio’s role as a threat in the passing and return games is significant for a program that has experienced big-play issues in recent years. We expect linebackers Xavier Carlton (from Utah) and Jackson Sirmon (Washington) to solidify the middle of the defense, but Plummer stands as the transfer most likely to affect Cal’s trajectory — and it’s not really close. There’s a void at quarterback without Chase Garbers and a slew of unknowns about the internal replacements.

Oregon

Biggest gain: QB Bo Nix (from Auburn)

Biggest loss: TB Travis Dye (to USC)

Comment: Despite Dye’s departure and the exodus of offensive linemen, the Ducks are in positive territory at this point in the transfer cycle. Cornerback Christian Gonzalez, an honorable-mention all-conference pick last season at Colorado, is a major acquisition given the significance of the position. But after his impressive showing in the spring scrimmage, Nix must be considered the frontrunner for the starting job. The combination of a starting quarterback and cornerback is enough to vault the Ducks into net-positive territory.

USC

Biggest gain: QB Caleb Williams (from Oklahoma)

Biggest loss: K Parker Lewis (to TBD)

Comment: The Trojans would be a portal winner if Williams were their only newcomer, but coach Lincoln Riley has completely rebuilt the skill positions with Dye (Oregon), Austin Jones (Stanford), Brendan Rice (Colorado), Mario Williams (Oklahoma) and Terrell Bynum (Washington). Defensively, USC has added three players, cornerback Mekhi Blackmon (from Colorado) and linebackers Shane Lee (Alabama) and Romello Height (Auburn), who should play significant roles in the salvage operation.

Utah

Biggest gain: LB Mohamoud Diabate (from Florida)

Biggest loss: DE Xavier Carlton (to Cal)

Comment: The combination of Diabate, who will face his former team in the season opener, and Gabe Reid (from Stanford), should help with the momentous task of replacing Devin Lloyd in the middle of the defense. The attrition from Utah’s two-deep has been limited — almost non-existent — as the program prepares to defend its conference title and make a run at the playoff. In contrast to so many peers in the South, and in the best of ways, the Utes are the epitome of dull.

Washington State

Biggest gain: QB Cameron Ward (from Incarnate Word)

Biggest loss: C Brian Greene (to Michigan State)

Comment: Ward not only offsets the loss of de Laura but could well be an upgrade given his familiarity with the offense deployed by new coordinator Eric Morris, who coached Ward last season. The Cougars have experienced significant turnover as measured by the quantity of departures (23). But other than losing Greene, a multi-year starter, the losses should have limited impact. The recent arrival of receiver Zeriah Beason (from Oregon State) adds a quality option to the passing game.

Losers

Arizona State

Biggest gain: DL Nesta Jade Silvera (from Miami)

Biggest loss: QB Jayden Daniels (to LSU)

Comment: Tough to imagine a worse scenario for the Sun Devils, who lost their starting quarterback, top receiver (Ricky Pearsall) and most talented young defender (linebacker Eric Gentry) — and the exodus could continue for a program reeling from a recruiting scandal. Silvera’s presence bolsters what should be a stout defensive front. We considered quarterback Paul Tyson (from Alabama) as the newcomer likely to make the greatest impact, but his lack of experience (16 career attempts) creates uncertainty.

Colorado

Biggest gain: WR R.J. Snead (from Baylor)

Biggest loss: CB Christian Gonzalez (to Oregon)

Comment: With 18 players departing the program since the end of the season, CU is on the short list of FBS teams hit hardest by the portal. The exodus includes most of the Buffaloes’ top performers in the secondary and at the skill positions (receiver Brenden Rice and tailback Jarek Broussard, to name two). The arrival of Snead and running back Ramon Jefferson (from Sam Houston State) will help. But if the portal were a balance sheet, the Buffs would be staring at bankruptcy.

Oregon State

Biggest gain: TB Jamious Griffin (from Georgia Tech)

Biggest loss: WR Champ Flemings (to TBA)

Comment: Griffin is a former four-star recruit and quality addition; he’s also OSU’s only addition at this point. Coach Jonathan Smith had few scholarships available and (not surprisingly) took a selective approach to roster tweaking. That approach naturally places the Beavers at a net-negative in our portal calculation, even though the number of impact departures is low and focused on a single position, receiver, with the loss of Flemings and Zeriah Beason, who’s headed to Washington State.

Stanford

Biggest gain: S Patrick Fields (from Oklahoma)

Biggest loss: TB Nathaniel Peat (to Missouri)

Comment: We feel confident predicting Stanford will never be a transfer portal winner — the admissions standards pose a major challenge for both undergraduate and graduate students. (Fields is the Cardinal’s only newcomer in this cycle.) Peat stands as the most significant departure instead of leading rusher Austin Jones, who left for USC, because of his big-play speed and success as a kick returner. But the combination is a major blow to a running game that struggled even with both players in the lineup.

UCLA

Biggest gains: LBs Grayson and Gabriel Murphy (from North Texas)

Biggest loss: LB Mitchell Agude (to Miami)

Comment: The attrition continues under Chip Kelly, with 18 players entering the portal (most of them on defense). But the Bruins have done well to minimize the losses. We selected the Murphy brothers, who committed to UCLA in early March, because of the two-for-one nature of their arrival and the deep need for edge rushers after Agude’s departure. Two more arrivals to watch: Gary Smith, a 320-pound defensive tackle (from Duke), and Raiqwon O’Neal, a former All-Big Ten offensive lineman (from Rutgers).

Washington

Biggest gain: QB Michael Penix Jr (from Indiana)

Biggest loss: WR Terrell Bynum (to USC)

Comment: Busy times in Seattle as first-year coach Kalen DeBoer attempts to upgrade his depth chart despite significant attrition on both sides of scrimmage. We hesitated to pick Penix as the top newcomer given that he might not win the job, but anyone with the potential to improve UW’s quarterback play is significant. Keep an eye on tailbacks Wayne Taulapapa (from Virginia Tech) and Aaron Dumas (from New Mexico). Defensively, linebacker Cam Bright (from Pittsburgh) is an important addition.

What other Utes may join Devin Lloyd in hearing names called out at NFL draft?

What other Utes may join Devin Lloyd in hearing names called out at NFL draft?

Ute linebacker Devin Lloyd is expected to be a first-round selection at this week’s NFL draft, and his head coach and position coach will be in Vegas with him to enjoy the moment

After a year “break,” Utah is back in the NFL draft business. 

Last year, the Utes had zero players selected in the 2021 draft — simply because no Utah players made themselves available for the draft.

But as the 2022 draft kicks off later this week, there are several former Utes, who helped lead the program to its first Pac-12 championship, that could hear their names called.

The list is headlined by consensus All-America linebacker Devin Lloyd, who is projected to be a first-round pick.

Coach Kyle Whittingham will be attending the draft in Las Vegas as a guest of Lloyd’s, along with linebackers coach Colton Swan.

Are both Utah and BYU sleeper candidates to make the College Football Playoff?

Are both Utah and BYU sleeper candidates to make the College Football Playoff?

Spring football camp has wrapped up for both Utah and BYU, but that doesn’t mean the hype surrounding the two programs is quieting.

With both schools coming off a season where they won double-digit games and ranked in the nation’s top 20 at the end of the year, both the Utes and Cougars are getting recognized on a national front.

The latest comes from ESPN’s Heather Dinich, who identified seven schools as sleeper candidates to make the College Football Playoff this season — two from the Pac-12, one from each of the other Power Five conferences and one non-Power Five program. 

Both Utah and BYU made the short list.

Peyton McFarland

Peyton McFarland

Fast Breaks: High ceiling … big and athletic … plays really hard and has the talent to be tremendous in the Pac-12.    

2020-21 (Freshman): Played in 20 games, averaging 15.1 minutes, 3.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and a team-high 1.1 blocks per game.

  • Two double-digit scoring games and two double-digit rebound games which included one double-double.
  • Career-high 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting at Washington State (2/21), also going 4-of-6 from the free throw line while adding six rebounds and two blocks.
  • Recorded 10 points and a career-high 11 rebounds against Arizona (12/20) for her first collegiate double-double.
  • Career-high six blocks against Arizona State (12/18), which tied for the most by a Pac-12 player in 2021 and ranks second all-time in program history for single-game blocks.
  • 10 rebounds and six points at Arizona State (1/24), also notching a career-high three steals.

High School: ESPN Top 100 and four-star recruit out of Boise HS was ranked No. 80 overall and No. 10 in her position in ESPN’s recruiting rankings.

  • Idaho Gatorade Player of the Year, two-time all-state selection and four-time all-Southern Idaho Conference selection.
  • Won the Idaho Sportsmanship Team Award in 2019.
  • Averaged 16.2 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 1.3 steals per game as a senior after averaging 12.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game as a junior.
  • Put up 10.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game as a sophomore.
  • Took her team to the state tournament in 2018 and 2019.
  • Earned Excellence in Value Points her freshman, sophomore and junior seasons.

Personal:  Daughter of Wendi and Andy McFarland … has a twin brother, Vincent, and a younger brother (Ian) … major is undeclared.

Pac-12 basketball rewind: NCAA seeds, thriller in Tucson, upticks by ASU and Utah

Pac-12 basketball rewind: NCAA seeds, thriller in Tucson, upticks by ASU and Utah

What we learned on the third-to-last — or antepenultimate, for all you wordsmiths out there — weekend of the regular season …

1. The committee likes Arizona, and UCLA

As expected, the Wildcats were a No. 1 seed in the NCAA selection committee’s reveal of the top-16 seeds as it currently stands.

We were more interested in their overall seed (No. 3) relative to those of Gonzaga, Auburn, Kansas, Baylor and Kentucky in order to better understand Arizona’s likely regional placement (San Francisco, San Antonio, Chicago or Philadelphia).

Based on the reveal, we’re skeptical the Wildcats can overtake Gonzaga — and earn a spot in San Francisco region — without the Zags losing. There just isn’t enough quality left in the schedule to power the Wildcats past Gonzaga with wins alone.

They have, at most, two games remaining against teams guaranteed to make the at-large field: USC (March 1) and either USC or UCLA in the finals of the conference tournament. That’s not a lot of rocket fuel.

Meanwhile, the Bruins received a No. 4 seed from the committee and, tellingly, were not the last of the 4s. With the No. 14 overall seed, they were ahead of both Texas and Providence.

Unlike Arizona, the Bruins possess several opportunities to impress the committee down the stretch with a trip to Oregon, a visit from USC and then, potentially, two high-level games in Las Vegas: against USC in the semifinals and Arizona in the finals.

The Pac-12 is on course to produce two top-four seeds for the first time since 2017, when it had three: No. 2 Arizona, No. 3 Oregon and No. 3 UCLA.

2. Oregon isn’t toast, yet

The Ducks appeared on the brink of collapse following a double-digit home loss to Cal and a 24-point loss at Arizona State a few days ago.

But their gritty performance at Arizona in a riveting 84-81 loss — they passed every NCAA Tournament ‘eye test’ known to man — showed there’s enough fight left for an at-large berth.

The key will be replicating the effort and intensity over the final fortnight. That shouldn’t be difficult with the Bruins and Trojans visiting Eugene this week. But the Duck can’t pull a no-show on the trip to Washington to close the regular season.

3. Washington State is a basket short, again

The Cougars had plenty of chances to improve their NCAA Tournament position but lost at USC 62-60 on a jumper by Boogie Ellis with 0.2 seconds left.

WSU is now 0-6 in games decided by one possession. More importantly, the Cougars remain winless in Quadrant I games.

Sunday evening, they managed just five points in the final six minutes and were scoreless in the last two.

With five consecutive losses and little juice left in the schedule, their path into the NCAAs is extraordinarily narrow.

4. ASU and Utah are on the rise

To varying degrees and for differing reasons, the Sun Devils and Utes haven’t played to expectations this season. (Not that those expectations were high to begin with.)

But after weekend sweeps — ASU over the Oregon schools; Utah in the Bay Area — both teams have unlocked momentum at just the right time for the Pac-12 tournament.

The late-season upturn in Tempe should end any speculation about coach Bobby Hurley’s future. Even through the most turbulent stretches, the Sun Devils (10-15/6-9) have given maximum effort. Lately, they have mustered the execution to match.

5. UCLA’s depth shines

A 26-point home win over Washington isn’t cause for pause — until you examine the boxscore.

The Bruins were without Johnny Juzang (hip injury) and received just 10 combined points from Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Tyger Campbell. Yet they polished off the Huskies with no trouble.

Why? Because wing Jaylen Clark, who replaced Juzang in the lineup, and reserve guard David Singleton combined for 47 points on 19-of-26 shooting.

Put another way: The No. 6 and 7 scorers on UCLA’s roster were good enough to generate almost as many points as Washington’s entire team (50).

That depth will serve the Bruins well in the postseason.

6. Stanford slides to the brink

The Cardinal spent many weeks doing Cardinal things, which is to say: Hovering near .500 in the Pac-12 standings. But this weekend was bad enough to potentially resonate at a high level — the level at which coach Jerod Haase’s future will be decided.

Stanford blew a second-half lead Thursday and became the first team this season to lose at home to Utah. Two days later, the Cardinal collapsed in the final 12 minutes in double-digit loss to Colorado.

The wasted home weekend comes at the end of the sixth consecutive season in which Haase has failed to produce an NCAA Tournament-worthy product.

Stanford (15-12/8-9) finishes with three road games (Cal, Arizona and ASU).

The odds of a late turnaround are slim.

The likelihood of Haase losing his job is increasing.

7. Jabari Walker is underappreciated conference-wide

The Colorado forward proved once again that he’s one of the Pac-12’s top talents with a 19-point, 15-rebound performance in a victory at Cal.

It was his fifth consecutive double-double and 14th this season, which tops the Pac-12 — nobody is close — and is tied for ninth nationally.

The double-double streak ended Saturday with a fairly quite performance at Stanford: 10 points and three rebounds. (Then again, the Buffaloes didn’t need Walker to dominate.)

We expect to see the 6-foot-9 sophomore selected in the first round of the NBA Draft this spring, after he’s named first-team all-conference.

He’s one of the five or six best players in the league.

8. The best of shows

The Pac-12 took maximum advantage of its national platform Saturday evening. ESPN sent its “College GameDay” crew and No. 1 announcing team to Tucson, and the quality of play more than met the occasion.

Arizona and Oregon produced 40 minutes of tense, high-level action that easily matched the competition on ESPN’s marquee games from other conferences during the season.

For the Pac-12 brand, it was a major victory — the most entertaining competition of 2022 in either of the marquee sports, save for those breathless four hours in Pasadena on Jan. 1.


Jon Wilner’s Pac-12 Hotline is brought to KSL.com through a partnership with the Bay Area News Group.


Jon Wilner has been covering college sports for decades and is an AP Top 25 football and basketball voter as well as a Heisman Trophy voter. He was named Beat Writer of the Year in 2013 by the Football Writers Association of America for his coverage of the Pac-12, won first place for feature writing in 2016 in the Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest and is a five-time APSE honoree. You can follow him on Twitter @WilnerHotline or send an email at jwilner@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Pac-12 Hotline: Subscribe to the Pac-12 Hotline Newsletter. Pac-12 Hotline is not endorsed or sponsored by the Pac-12 Conference, and the views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the Conference.

Utes Return to California for Tony Gwynn Legacy Tournament

Utes Return to California for Tony Gwynn Legacy Tournament

Utah headed for San Diego State for weekend vs. Fresno State and host Aztecs

2022 Utah Baseball Game Notes
Games 4-6
Date // Time (MT)
Utah (2-0-1 overall, 0-0 Pac-12) vs. Fresno State (3-1 overall, 0-0 MWC)
Friday, Feb. 25 // 2 p.m. MT

Utah at San Diego State (1-3 overall, 0-0 MWC)
Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 26-27 // 7 p.m. MT – 3 p.m. MT
LocationSan Diego, Calif. (Tony Gwynn Stadium)
Live StatisticsStatBroadcast
Friday // Saturday // Sunday
StreamingStreaming unavailable during this series
Follow @utahbaseball on social media for in-game coverage
Game NotesUtah Game Notes (PDF) // Pac-12 Weekly Release
@UtahBaseball Social MediaTwitter // Instagram // Facebook // #GoUtes
Season OutlookNew Look Utes Ready for 2022 Baseball Season

The First Pitch: Things to Know

  • A California flavor continues this weekend for Utah baseball, with the Utes returning to the Golden State for the Tony Gwynn Legacy tournament hosted by San Diego State. Utah will open the event facing Fresno State on Friday, Feb. 25, then take on the host Aztecs on both Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 26-27.
  • The Utes are 2-0-1 after the opening weekend of the season, coming off of a three-game set at Loyola Marymount. Utah won its first two games under head coach Gary Henderson, and the series finale ended in a 9-9 tie after 10 innings, a game called due to the timing of Utah’s return travel.
  • On Tuesday, Feb. 22 the ballclub was scheduled to visit in-state foe Utah Valley, but that matchup was postponed due to inclement weather and rescheduled for Wednesday, April 27.
  • It’s been a while since Utah has crossed paths with Fresno State, the last meeting of the clubs coming in March 2008. The Utes’ last win over the Bulldogs came in a 1999 meeting of the former WAC rivals—the ’99 campaign was Utah’s last baseball season in the WAC before departing for the Mountain West.
  • The theme of former conference foes continues against the Aztecs, previously a league opponent when Utah was in the Mountain West. San Diego State edged the Utes 3-2 in 2019, and Utah last knocked off the Aztecs on the opening day of the 2011 Mountain West Tournament.

Recap in a Minute

  • The bats were hot for Utah in the season-opening series at LMU. Both Chase Anderson (.462) and Kai Roberts (.400) hit at .400 or above in the weekend set, with Roberts’ opening night including a second-inning grand slam that clanked off the right field light tower at LMU’s Page Stadium.
  • The long ball wasn’t limited to Roberts, either. In the series finale, true freshman Landon Frei made his collegiate debut with a bang, clubbing a solo homer in his first at bat.
  • Anderson, making his Utah debut, started all three games at third base and hit three-hole for the weekend. Two of his at bats in Saturday’s game were particularly crucial. In the first inning of the tilt, Anderson’s two-out single kept the inning alive before scoring Utah’s first run. Then in the eighth, Anderson powered through a 10-pitch AB en route to a leadoff single and eventual insurance run. He was error-free at the hot corner as well.
  • Utah had 12 hits in the middle game, then logged 16 in the 10-inning finale.
  • The Utes’ relievers had some noteworthy performances along the way at LMU, among them Bryson Van Sickle’s first appearance. Called upon in the second inning with men on first and second base, Van Sickle got out of the inning unharmed and ultimately worked four innings with four strikeouts. He was awarded the win, his first as a Ute.
  • Zac McCleve closed out the final 2.2 innings of the season opener, fanning three. A hit batsman in the ninth was the only batter that reached on McCleve’s watch during that appearance.
Transferring triumphantly: Former Runnin’ Utes are mostly flourishing at new schools

Transferring triumphantly: Former Runnin’ Utes are mostly flourishing at new schools

Texas’ Timmy Allen, Arizona’s Pelle Larsson and Illinois’ Alfonso Plummer among the transfers who are playing for better teams, likely bound for NCAA Tournament

Last Saturday proved to be an eventful day for University of Utah men’s basketball fans, and not just because the Runnin’ Utes edged Cal 60-58 to complete their first Pac-12 road sweep since 2019, the year Parker Van Dyke hit that buzzer-beating 3-pointer to down UCLA.

In the morning and early afternoon, former Utes Alfonso Plummer and Timmy Allen were shining on national television for now No. 15 Illinois (ESPN) and No. 20 Texas (ABC), respectively, while that night ex-Ute Pelle Larsson played a role in No. 2 Arizona’s 84-81 win over Oregon in one of the most entertaining college basketball games of the season to date.

All three games were played in front of packed houses, a far cry from what the Utes experienced in games at Stanford and Cal last week, or what they’ve seen at home this season, with the exception of the BYU game.

Saturday afternoon, ex-Ute Rylan Jones scored six points and had three assists before fouling out in Utah State’s 68-57 loss at Boise State in front of 10,252 fans at ExtraMile Arena. The night before, former Ute Ian Martinez scored 10 points in 17 minutes during Maryland’s 90-74 win at Nebraska in a clash between two of the three worst teams in the Big Ten.

In Europe, former Ute Mikael Jantunen, who turned pro despite having a couple more years of college eligibility left, is flourishing with B.C. Oostende, a Belgian professional team that competes in the BNXT League and internationally in the Basketball Champions League.

As has been well documented by the Deseret News and other publications, six key contributors from last year’s Runnin’ Utes team either transferred or turned pro following the 2020-21 season. Some left before coach Larry Krystkowiak was fired, others departed after, seeking a fresh start, more playing time, or in the cases of Allen, Plummer, Martinez and Larsson, the opportunity to play for more high-profile programs in more frenzied environments.

Two other ex-Utes who were on the Utah roster when the 2020-21 season began, 6-foot-6 guard Jordan Kellier and redshirt guard Brendan Wenzel, are also still playing collegiately. Kellier is averaging 4.2 points per game at Siena College in New York, while Wenzel, who left the program shortly after Christmas in 2020, is averaging 5.5 points per game at 22-4 Wyoming, currently in second place in the Mountain West.

In a lot of cases, transfers usually don’t result in better situations for the departing players, but one would be hard-pressed to get one of the eight former Utes to say he regrets making the move.

Nor is it easy to get any of the Utes who stayed when Craig Smith replaced Krystkowiak in late March to grumble about their current situations. Centers Branden Carlson and Lahat Thioune, forward Riley Battin and guard Jaxon Brenchley appear to be doing just fine, although the latter three aren’t playing as much as they have in the past.

Carlson, who was widely viewed as the most important player for Smith to keep in the fold last spring, said he communicated with the guys who left “every once in a while” over the summer, but not so much now that their seasons are well underway.

“I am just worried about my season right now, and our team,” Carlson said. “We’re not talking to those guys too much at the moment.”

With Allen leading the team in minutes (35.2), scoring (17.2) and rebounding (6.4), the Utes went 12-13 overall, 8-11 in the Pac-12, and made it to the conference tournament quarterfinals before falling 91-85 to USC in double overtime. The talent was there, but that particular group probably underachieved — having Jantunen and Jones miss extended games due to international team play (Jantunen) or injury (Jones) certainly didn’t help the situation. Also, the Pac-12 turned out to be really good last year, evidenced by how well it did in the Big Dance.

For instance, the USC team that edged the Utes in Las Vegas made it all the way to the Elite Eight before falling to national runner-up Gonzaga. The UCLA team that advanced to the Final Four edged the Utes 72-70 at home on Dec. 31, 2020.

Before the Utes (11-16, 4-13) won three of their last five games and snapped their program-record 10-game losing streak, the Deseret News asked Smith if he ever allows himself to wonder what might have been if Allen or Plummer or Larsson or Martinez or Jones or Jantunen, or any or all of the above, had stayed in the program.

“That’s more than a fair question. At the end of the day we lost a guy to Arizona, a guy to Maryland, a guy to Illinois, a guy to Texas, a guy to Utah State, and a guy turned pro,” Smith said. “Obviously it has worked out for those guys, or most of them.”

Smith said he got to know Jones and Larsson a little bit after he was hired, but the other four were already in the transfer portal. Jones and Larsson did some individual workouts with Smith and some of the assistants he hired shortly after getting the job, but obviously chose to move on.

Resurgent Runnin’ Utes savoring chance to face No. 2 Arizona at Huntsman Center

Resurgent Runnin’ Utes savoring chance to face No. 2 Arizona at Huntsman Center

Best team to visit Salt Lake City in quite some time brings new coach Tommy Lloyd of Gonzaga fame, a lofty national ranking, and an eight-game winning streak to Salt Lake City

When Arizona hired longtime Gonzaga assistant Tommy Lloyd last April to replace the fired Sean Miller, BYU fans in the know breathed a little easier, believing that Lloyd was one of the secrets to the Zags’ unparalleled success.

Now the boyish-looking Lloyd is Utah’s problem.

In less than a year, the 47-year-old Lloyd has not only revived a sagging program, he’s directed Arizona (24-2, 14-1) to the top of the Pac-12 standings and a No. 2 ranking in the national polls. Arizona is also No. 2 in the NET rankings, No. 2 in Sagarin, No. 3 in Kenpom, and was projected in the NCAA selection committee’s early reveal last Saturday as the third overall team in the Big Dance and the South Region’s No. 1 seed.

Not coincidentally, Lloyd’s former employer — 23-2 Gonzaga — is No. 1 in the land and No. in the West Region — thereby pushing the Wildcats to a non-West region. They obviously know what they are doing up in Spokane, from head coach Mark Few all the way down.

Utah (11-16, 4-13) plays host to Arizona and national coach of the year candidate Lloyd on Thursday (9 p.m. MST, Fox Sports 1) at the Huntsman Center with at least one thing in common with the Wildcats.

Both squads are on multigame winning streaks. But that’s about where the comparisons end.

Arizona has won eight in a row — its only losses were to then-No. 7 UCLA at Pauley Pavilion on Jan. 25 and 77-73 to then-No. 19 Tennessee in Knoxville on Dec. 22.

Utah has won two in a row, and three of its last five, having snapped a 10-game losing streak (that included an 82-64 loss to Arizona on Jan. 15) with an 84-59 win over Oregon State on Feb. 3.

Utah played without star center Branden Carlson, who averaged 13.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, in that 18-point loss in Tucson and could be without the 7-footer again Thursday. Carlson rolled his ankle late in Utah’s 60-58 win at Cal on Saturday.

Coach Craig Smith said Tuesday in his weekly news conference that Carlson didn’t practice Monday or Tuesday and is day-to-day. He almost certainly will be a game-time decision, just like the last time he sprained his ankle. He turned it against USC on Dec. 1, and played four days later against Cal.

“The good news is there is nothing structurally (damaged) that we are aware of,” Smith said. “He knows how to handle those sorts of things. He has been through it before. … Hopefully that is the same scenario this week.”

Carlson missed the first meeting with Arizona because of an appendectomy.

Guard Marco Anthony, who has been the hottest Ute lately, leading them in rebounding (7.7 rpg.), will probably draw the unenviable defensive assignment of guarding Bennedict Mathurin, the probable Pac-12 Player of the Year. Anthony said the loss in Tucson gave the Utes confidence that they can hang with the best team to visit the Huntsman Center in years.

It was a one-point game with 12 minutes remaining.

“Yeah, we had that stretch obviously where we let them get loose in transition, and ultimately let the game get away from us,” Anthony said. “We are going to really lock in on that during practices that we have the remainder of the week to get ready for Thursday.”

Make no mistake, though. Anthony and his teammates learned that day why the Wildcats are running away in the league standings. When they got it rolling they were unstoppable.

“They are a great team,” Anthony said. “I mean, there is (a reason why) they are the No. 2 team in the country. They just do a lot of great things. They really play off each other. They have found success through teamwork and things of that nature. It is going to be a great battle on Thursday.”