Utah Utes upheaves men’s basketball team 64-55

In a fight to regain Mountain West Conference respectability, the men’s basketball team couldn’t carry the momentum for a full 40 minutes, dropping a 64-55 decision to the Utah Utes Wednesday night.

The game was hard-fought on both sides, featuring nine lead changes and seven ties.
The Horned Frogs (11-14, 3-7 MWC) kept it close in the first half of the game holding the Utes (11-12, 4-5) to 42.3 percent shooting, going to the locker room with a 32-29 deficit.

Freshman center Nikola Cerina had a huge first half for the Frogs, posting a career-high 16 points in only 10 minutes of work. He went 6-of-7 from the field, including two three-pointers. Cerina also brought down three rebounds to lead the Frogs in that category going into halftime. Cerina was a non-factor in the second half though, scoring only one point on a free throw.

Cerina said he owed his strong first half performance to weak play by Utah’s defense.

“It was all open shots so it wasn’t very hard to score,” he said. “In the first half I had all wide open shots.”

The second half was a nightmare for the Horned Frogs, who shot just 27.6 percent from the field and were outscored 32-26.

The Horned Frogs brought the score to within one left to play, but could not keep Utah’s guards from scoring, allowing Utah’s final 15 points to their guards.

Horned Frog head coach Jim Christian said a failure to focus and execute cost the team the game.

“In the first half we executed fantastic, we ran our sets really well and we executed our stuff,” Christian said. “In the second half we played too much one on one and took bad shot…that’s why we shot 28 percent in the second half.”

Cerina said a lack of full effort on the part of the Frogs proved costly in the second half.

“We just kind of stopped playing hard,” Cerina said.

Sophomore guard Ronnie Moss’ scoring improved in the second half as he scored nine of his 12 points in the second twenty minutes. Moss didn’t have any assists in the second half though after totaling seven in the first.

Senior forward Zvonko Buljan had eight points to go with nine rebounds on the night.
The Utes’ star of the game was local product Marshall Henderson out of L.D. Bell High School in Hurst. The freshman guard was a sniper from three-point range during the game, going 5-for-7 from beyond the arc and tallying 24 points total.

Junior guard Carlon Brown dropped in 13 points while senior guard Luka Drka had 9 points.