Score, recap, analysis Dec. 9, 2023

Utah Utes basketball coach Craig Smith could not contain his emotions as he waded through a crowded back hallway of the Huntsman Center, soaking wet from a locker room celebration. After stopping to fetch a fresh shirt, Smith emerged to rave about the sellout crowd and the team’s impressive 73-69 win over No. 14 BYU, the first sellout game since 2017. Smith, now in his third year as head coach, said the victory was unlike anything he had ever experienced, praising the team’s efforts to reignite the “Huntsman Magic.”

The win over BYU demonstrated the success of Smith’s program, showcasing Utah’s strengths in size and shooting. The victory also had personal significance for many of Smith’s players and staff, who were eager to take down their biggest rival. The game was a statement that proved Utah’s basketball program can still be elite at its best.

The Utes’ performance on the court aligned with Smith’s strategy of building a long, defensively strong team capable of dominating the paint. The front line’s impressive performance, combined with a strong defensive effort, secured the crucial win.

The game held personal significance for several members of the team, with players like Branden Carlson, who returned for a fifth year in part to play in this game, contributing significantly to the victory. Additionally, former BYU coach Chris Burgess, now on Smith’s staff, took on a pivotal role in preparing for the game.

Overall, the win was a memorable moment for Utah’s head coach and the team, illustrating the program’s potential at its best. The electric atmosphere of the game emphasized the return of “Huntsman Magic,” recalling the program’s historic successes on the court.

Historically, the rivalry between Utah and BYU has been fierce, with both teams striving for dominance on the court. The recent victory is a testament to Smith’s leadership and the team’s determination to reclaim their elite status in college basketball.

In conclusion, the Utes’ triumph over BYU marked a significant milestone for Utah’s basketball program, reviving the spirit of “Huntsman Magic” and signaling a bright future for the team.

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