- Associated Press - Monday, December 17, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - One of Parker Van Dyke’s roles as a team captain for Utah is to teach his younger teammates what it takes to be competitive at the Pac-12 level. Van Dyke gave them a lesson on Monday night they are certain to remember.

The senior guard scored a career-high 20 points while making a career-high six 3-pointers to lead the Utes to a 93-64 victory over Florida A&M.; Van Dyke set the tone for an offensive effort that saw Utah shoot a season-high 59 percent from the floor and go 11-of-25 from 3-point range to snap a two-game losing streak.

“The shot felt pretty good tonight,” Van Dyke said. “It felt good to hit some shots. This was a fun game.”

Van Dyke made his fourth start of the season as Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak shook up the starting lineup to try and find a combination that would give the Utes (5-5) more offensive and defensive energy out of the gates. Now in his fourth year in the program, Van Dyke has become a role model of what Krystkowiak wants to see from his younger players on the roster in terms of energy and leadership.

“He has a lot of the qualities we love in our program,” Krystkowiak said.

Timmy Allen and Sedrick Barefield added 16 points apiece for the Utes. Utah had five different players score in double figures and scored at least 90 points for just the second time this season.

Justin Ravenal scored 20 points to lead the Rattlers. It wasn’t nearly enough to keep Florida A&M; (3-9) from losing for the ninth time in 10 games.

Utah led wire to wire, but Florida A&M; hung close at times during in the first half, closing to 19-14 on a 3-pointer from Ravenel.

That’s as close as Florida A&M; got. Utah used a 12-2 run to break the game open late in the first half. Van Dyke and Barefield sparked the run with back-to-back 3-pointers. Donnie Tillman finished it off with a layup that give the Utes a 31-16 lead with 6:54 remaining before halftime.

Florida A&M; didn’t fade away quietly at first. The Rattlers scored four straight baskets, culminating in a 3-pointer from Rod Melton Jr., to cut Utah’s lead to 42-34 in the final minute of the first half.

“I wasn’t pleased with the first-half energy,” Krystkowiak said. “Let them shoot (nearly) 60 percent. Didn’t have a steal. Didn’t have a blocked shot. It was a little disappointing.”

Utah slammed the door shut on any potential comeback after halftime by scoring six straight baskets as part of a 16-2 run. Allen bookended the run with a jumper and a layup. His second basket gave Utah a 67-42 lead with 12:32 remaining.

Van Dyke said the biggest key for the Utes is that they came out with renewed focus in the four-minute segment before the first media timeout of the second half.

“We talk about playing different four-minute games within the game,” Van Dyke said. “Sometimes you can’t think of the whole game. You got to think of those first four minutes. That’s what we did in the second half. We came out and we played much better and much harder.”

BIG PICTURE

Florida A&M;: The Rattlers gave a spirited effort in the first half behind efficient offense and disciplined play before Utah’s superior talent and athleticism wore them down. Florida A&M; hasn’t beaten a Division I opponent since the season opener and that second win may take a while with a tough road slate still ahead to close out 2018.

Utah: The Utes avoided another slow start on offense and offered up promising signs that they have turned a corner in that department. Utah hit nine straight baskets at one point during the first half and had another string of six straight baskets after halftime. Those stood in stark contrast to lengthy scoring droughts the Utes have endured in losses this season.

GUTTING IT OUT

A sprained ankle didn’t keep Both Gach out of the starting lineup. Gach played only 17 minutes and finished with two points on 1-of-4 shooting after scoring a career-high 22 points against Kentucky. But the freshman also suffered a major ankle sprain in the 88-61 loss to the Wildcats.

“He’s a warrior,” Krystkowiak said, noting that many of his players would not have practiced, participated in shootaround, and may not have even played with a similar injury. “He’s playing through a little bit of pain and that’s one of the things that’s going to make Both a special player.”

CLEANING THE GLASS

Utah won the rebounding battle for a second straight game. The Utes finished with 38-17 edge on the glass over Florida A&M.; They capitalized with 12 second-chance points and 36 points in the paint. Utah ended up being outrebounded by three consecutive opponents before finishing with a 31-23 advantage on the boards against Kentucky on Saturday.

UP NEXT

Florida A&M; visits Oregon on Tuesday.

Utah hosts Northern Arizona on Friday.

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More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25


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