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Utah's freshman big man was on fire.
Hitting layups off the glass on pick and rolls, getting his hands in shooters' faces, hitting 3-pointers hold on, which rookie was it?
Jakob Poeltl may have everyone buzzing about his burgeoning potential, but Tuesday night's 80-66 win over South Dakota State featured another Runnin' Utes frosh: Brekkott Chapman.
Playing at the Huntsman Center, only 35 miles south of his hometown, the local product shined for a team-best 22 points on 9-for-13 shooting. Even on a night when Chapman's senior teammate, Delon Wright, came four rebounds shy of a triple-double, Larry Krystkowiak mentioned Chapman first after No. 14 Utah (9-2) cruised.
Maybe he's just happy to see the 6-foot-8 forward shoot it a little more.
"It's not very often you have to coach a young man and convince him he needs to shoot it more often," Krystkowiak said. "But he's got a nice stroke from the perimeter, made some nice plays."
Playing 25 minutes and uncharacteristically avoiding foul trouble, Chapman showed his range, from dunks to knocking down a pair of shots from beyond the arc. He helped key a 19-6 run in the final 5:25 of the first half that put South Dakota State in its place.
Teammates targeted Chapman when he got hot, particularly Wright. Utah's star had a standout night himself, to the tune of 17 points on 7-for-8 shooting with 10 assists and 6 rebounds. He later joked he had to work on his rebounding.
Chapman said he had imagined he might one day seize the spotlight for the Utes, the team he grew up loving. He just hadn't thought he'd have that kind of performance in his 11th career game for Utah.
"It's huge to be able to do that right before Christmas break," he said. "To get a little more Christmas spirit in the Chapman house."
As a team, the Utes were feeling some holiday spirit, perhaps. They shot nearly 52 percent from the field, including going 7 for 15 from 3-point range in the first half. Dakarai Tucker chipped in 11 points, while Poeltl the more hyped freshman of Utah's litter added nine points and six rebounds after a foul-plagued first half.
The Jackrabbits started well enough, but suffered from playing their fourth game in six nights after a holiday tournament in Logan. While South Dakota State did outscore Utah in the second half by three points, the visitors shot under 40 percent and had more turnovers (12) than assists (10).
After playing the likes of Wichita State, BYU and Kansas in recent weeks, the Utes looked entirely at ease against their guests, cutting into the paint and passing in circles around the defense. Krystkowiak said he had worried about a drop-off in Utah's last serious test before the start of Pac-12 play.
"Forget 'trap game,' they're a good team," Krystkowiak said. "That team is gonna win a lot of games, and they're going to compete at the top of their league."
It was a night for youth: Freshmen Isaiah Wright and Kyle Kuzma also logged heavy minutes after being clipped a bit in Utah's most recent stretch of difficult games.
Starting forward Chris Reyes was mostly absent after hitting the bench three minutes in. During the first half, Krystkowiak said he saw the sophomore doubled over and assumed he was hurt. But both Krystkowiak and Reyes said afterward that he should be fine for Utah's next game against Carroll College on Dec. 30.
No. 14 Utah 80, South Dakota St. 66
S. DAKOTA ST. (9-4)
Parks 4-13 0-0 9, Bittle 0-3 0-0 0, Marshall 3-11 1-1 8, Horstman 4-6 1-1 10, Larson 5-10 2-3 13, Broman 1-1 0-0 2, Flatten 1-7 0-0 2, Moffitt 0-0 1-2 1, Tellinghuisen 3-7 4-4 12, Severyn 0-1 0-0 0, Devine 1-1 0-1 2, Theisen 3-3 0-0 7. Totals 25-63 9-12 66.
Taylor 0-3 0-0 0, Tucker 4-6 1-2 11, Reyes 0-0 0-0 0, Poeltl 4-8 1-4 9, D. Wright 7-8 3-3 17, Chapman 9-13 2-3 22, I. Wright 2-8 0-0 6, Eastman 0-0 0-0 0, Ogbe 3-8 0-0 8, Bachynski 1-1 2-3 4, Kuzma 0-3 3-4 3, Olsen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-58 12-19 80.
HalftimeUtah 45-28. 3-Point GoalsS. Dakota St. 7-19 (Tellinghuisen 2-5, Larson 1-1, Horstman 1-1, Theisen 1-1, Marshall 1-4, Parks 1-4, Severyn 0-1, Flatten 0-2), Utah 8-23 (Chapman 2-3, Tucker 2-4, I. Wright 2-6, Ogbe 2-7, Kuzma 0-1, Taylor 0-1, D. Wright 0-1). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsS. Dakota St. 35 (Larson 6), Utah 37 (Poeltl, D. Wright 6). AssistsS. Dakota St. 10 (Parks 3), Utah 21 (D. Wright 10). Total FoulsS. Dakota St. 17, Utah 16. A10,322.