Poeltl scores 19 to lead Utah to 102-72 win over Idaho State
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Idaho State knew it had a significant challenge in Jakob Poeltl, without a single player on its roster that could match the 7-foot center's all-around game. The Austrian center knew it, too.
Poeltl scored 19 points and had 11 rebounds as Utah easily dispatched Idaho State 102-72 Friday night. The sophomore had 51 points in the last two games after setting a career-high Sunday.
''We managed to have an advantage inside with Jakob and (Kyle) Kuzma,'' Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. ''Then we hit, maybe, as many 3s as we've hit all season. So, it was a nice combination overall.
''The key for us is we need to have 3-4 guys having a good game simultaneously. And I don't care which of those guys it is.''
The Bengals (2-3) were simply overmatched by a Utah (5-1) team with better athletes and the best player on the floor in Poeltl. The Utes led 57-28 at halftime and never looked back.
The 57-point first half was the highest scoring 20 minutes of the season by the Utes. The 102 points was their first time scoring 100-plus points since Dec. 19, 2013.
''We knew they were a little undersized team,'' Poeltl said. ''In general, we're a taller and more physical team. We knew we would have to go inside.
''I tried to be aggressive with it, (but) the first couple minutes of the game they did a really good job taking it away and I wasn't as active as I wanted to be. Then I kind of turned that around and it went better from that point.''
Kuzma scored 17 for the Utes and matched a career-high 12 rebounds. Gabe Bealer added 12 points on 5-for-5 shooting from the floor. Poeltl also had four blocks, two steals and two assists.
Ali Faruq-Bey scored 18 for Idaho State, but didn't get a ton of help. The Bengals shot 37.7 percent from the field while the Utes shot 59.0 percent.
Idaho State seemed up for the challenge in the first four minutes of the game. The Bengals jumped out to a 13-11 lead with a pair of 3-pointers and a 3-point play. That was as good as it got for the visitors. Utah answered with a 9-0 run and extended its lead with a 15-2 run capped by a steal, break-away sprint dribble and two-hand dunk by Poeltl.
''He's got good feet, but he (also) has good size and good physical strength,'' Idaho State coach Bill Evans said about Poeltl. ''That's a good combination. He's blessed with a lot of good characteristics
''We gambled a little bit to try and take away the big guy and they made us pay.''
Idaho State: The Bengals have lost 24 straight games to Pac-12 teams with the last win coming during the 1986-87 season. ... Idaho State is 0-3 when hitting fewer than 11 3-pointers. It made 10.
Utah: The Utes are 18-0 against Idaho State at home. ... The Utes have won 23 straight nonconference games at home. The last home nonconference loss was Dec. 21, 2012. ... Isaiah Wright had a career high three blocks. ... Brekkott Chapman left with an injury to his right ankle and did not return.
Idaho State just couldn't match Utah's size and athleticism inside. The Bengals were outscored 48-22 in the paint. The Utes blocked 10 shots and outrebounded Idaho State 42-23.
Kuzma played in No. 13 on Friday, a sizeable difference from his normal No. 35. He said he hasn't seen it since the team returned from the tournament in Puerto Rico last week. Kuzma said the change isn't permanent.
''I don't know where it went, how it happened,'' Kuzma said. ''Just went James Harden today, I guess.''
Idaho State visits Lamar on Dec. 5.
Utah hosts rival BYU on Wednesday.