A 15-1 run by Utah early in the second half propelled the visiting Utes (4-1) to a 71-58 win over Missouri State at JQH Arena on Friday night before 7,742 fans.
The Bears (2-2) led 27-26 at halftime after a free throw by Wade Knapp with 0.5 seconds left in the first half completed a traditional three-point play and gave Missouri State its first lead. MSU extended the margin to 29-26 to open the second half on another bucket by Knapp and held a 35-31 advantage after a jumper by Chris Cooks at the 17:28 mark.
Utah then ran off 15 of the next 16 points and held a 46-36 lead at 9:53. The Bears battled back within 46-40 on a pair of free throws by Cooks at the 9:02 mark, but the Bears went nearly 13 minutes without a field goal as Utah used its size and accurate shooting to pull away.
The Utes shot 59 percent in the second half (13-for-22) and 54.8 percent for the game, while making good on 14-of-18 from the free throw line in the final 20 minutes with five three pointers.
The Bears were led by Spencer Laurie who scored 18 points and hit four three-pointers before fouling out for the first time in 98 college games. Laurie and Ryan Jehle each had key three-pointers late in the second half to keep the Bears within striking distance, but Utah kept its composure to seal the win.
Cooks was also in double figures with 11 points for the Bears in addition to a game-high eight rebounds. Missouri State was just 8-for-27 (.296) in the second half from the field and hit for 34.0 percent for the game.
Luke Nevill, Carlon Brown and Tyler Kepkay each score 13 points for Utah, while Lawrence Borha added 10.
The Bears outrebounded the bigger Utes by a 16-13 margin in the first 20 minutes, but Utah finished with a 32-28 advantage on the boards.
In the first half, Utah led 16-5 with 13:08 remaining before the Bears went on a 12-1 run to tie it at 17-17 at 9:45. Back-to-back threes by Laurie tied the game, and Weems added another tying three-pointer at the 5:56 mark, when the score was 22-22.
Missouri State (2-2) entertains Arkansas-Little Rock Wednesday night at JQH Arena for a 7:05 tipoff.
Story courtesy: Rick Kindhart, Missouri State Athletics