- Associated Press - Thursday, December 3, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Utah center Jakob Poeltl continues to show why some considered him an NBA lottery pick last summer. The 7-foot Austrian was unstoppable in the post against BYU on Wednesday.

Poeltl had 26 points and 13 rebounds as Utah defeated rival BYU 83-75.

“We all know how good Jakob is,” Utah guard Kenneth Ogbe said. “He’s a NBA guy. That’s where the ball has to go. He opens up the floor for us. We get open 3s because of him.

“He’s our most important player.”

The Utes rolled over the Cougars in the first half and took a 23-point lead into halftime. BYU awoke during the break and started the second half with a 15-2 run, but it wasn’t enough to dig out of the first-half hole.

Poeltl shot 11 for 16 from the field and added five blocks. He’s combined for 77 points, 35 rebounds and 12 blocks in the last three games.

Ogbe scored a season-high 13 and Jordan Loveridge finished with 12 points and five rebounds.

Kyle Collinsworth led BYU with 15 points, nine rebounds and five assists while Kyle Davis chipped in 12 points and eight rebounds. Chase Fischer added a season-high 26 points.

The victory should be a good non-conference win for Utah against a BYU team that could be in the hunt for a NCAA tournament berth.

“The first half was a little disheartening,” BYU coach Dave Rose said. “I thought we had a good plan, but they were the aggressors from the very first. We had a hard time guarding the dribble penetration. When we did bring someone to help, they found an open shooter and they shot the ball well.”

The Utes dominated the first half from the opening tip. They took a 13-4 lead with a heavy dose of Poeltl in the paint. The lead extended to 35-13 after a 12-0 run was capped with a Loveridge 3-pointer.

The two teams went back and forth down the stretch of the first half, but the damage had been done and Utah went into halftime with a 51-28 lead.

The 28 points were a season-low for BYU in any half and the 51 points were the most it has allowed in any half.

The offensive-minded Cougars repeatedly attacked the basket, but couldn’t finish at the rim. They shot 35.5 percent in the first half - another season-low for any half.

On the other end, Utah couldn’t miss. They shot 52.9 percent from the field, including 8 for 19 from behind the arc. The eight triples were two shy of matching the season high for an entire game.

“When you get down like that, it’s tough,” Collinsworth said. “The energy is gone. But we just brought the energy (in the second half). Started making plays and dug ourselves out of that hole that was, unfortunately, too big.

“They just outplayed us.”

___

TIP-INS

BYU: Nick Emery, a freshman coming off his Mormon mission, has scored double figures in 5 of 6 games. He was hit with a flagrant 2 foul call with 1:44 left in the game for throwing a punch and was ejected. … Ten assists were a season-low.

Utah: Ogbe made his first start of the season in place of Lorenzo Bonam. … The Utes have now beaten the Cougars three straight times. … Brandon Taylor had 11 points and nine assists.

OFFENSIVE IMPROVEMENT

Utah scored 50-plus points in the first half for the second consecutive game. They hadn’t scored 50 in a single half in any of the previous five games.

EJECTED

Emery wound up and punched Taylor in the chest underneath the basket. Taylor instantly dropped to the floor.

“Basically punched Brandon and I watched him tell him to stay on the ground after he punched,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “That’s what got my undies in a little bit of a bunch.”

Taylor called it a dirty play.

“I don’t have respect for guys like those,” Taylor said. “It’s uncalled for, but it is what it is.

“Not only did he hit me, but he said something very foul. I’m going to leave it at that.”

UP NEXT

BYU plays Weber State on a neutral court in Salt Lake City on Saturday.

Utah hosts Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne on Saturday.

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