Love for the game. Chemistry.
Those two phrases are arguably the biggest clichés in basketball. But the Utah women swear by them. And with six consecutive wins to start the young season, it's getting pretty hard to argue with them.
The latest victim came in the form of Utah State on Tuesday night, with the final being a lopsided 92-64 in front of 770 at the Huntsman Center. The 6-0 record represents the best start for the Utes since the 2000-01 team that advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
"We know what we have this year," junior center Taryn Wicijowski said. "In past years, we would have to get to know each other and get comfortable with each other while the season was going on. Now, we have everyone back. So we're kind of ahead of things right now."
With just one player Janita Badon not returning, Utah is a deep and talented bunch, and it showed against the Aggies. Up 12-10 early on, the Utes scored 27 of the next 33 points, and that was pretty much the game.
Wicijowski has become almost a dominant player in the paint, and Tuesday night proved to be no different, as she scored 21 points, grabbed eight rebounds and handed out six assists. Fellow junior Michelle Plouffe scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Iwalani Rodrigues scored 15 points and freshman Paige Crozon chipped in with a career-high 13.
"I thought that we defended as well as we have since I've been here in that first half," Utah coach Anthony Levrets said. "We just got down and defended really well. We rebounded and we were able to push the ball in transition."
As a team, the Utes scored more than 90 points for the first time since 2010, when they dropped 91 on Southern Oregon.
But the best thing going for Utah on Tuesday was its defense of USU guard Devyn Christensen, Utah State's high scorer, who totaled 18 points but on just 6-of-18 shooting. Rodrigues served as the primary defender, and Christensen scored just a single basket in the decisive first half.
Storylines Utah 92, USU 64
R Utah improves to 6-0 for the first time since 2000-01.
• The Utes outscore Utah State 41-18 in the first half.
• Utah has four players score in double figures.