Utah brushes aside VCU in NIT quarterfinals

League: NCAA Basketball

Posted on: 28 Mar, 2024 at 03:24 AM

Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Gabe Madsen scored 18 points and Branden Carlson added 17 to lead Utah to a 74-54 NIT quarterfinal victory over VCU on Wednesday night in Salt Lake City.

Deivon Smith tallied 15 points, 12 assists, and 11 rebounds for the Utes, earning his second straight triple-double and fifth overall this season. Utah (22-14) led wire to wire to advance to the NIT semifinals for the first time since 2018.

The Utes will face Indiana State in Indianapolis on Tuesday. The final is scheduled for April 4.

VCU (24-14) shot just 32.8 percent from the field and went 5-for-26 (19.2 percent) from 3-point range. Sean Bairstow led the Rams with 13 points.

The Utes seized control early, making seven of their first 11 shots to jump out to an 18-2 lead. Carlson and Madsen combined for five baskets -- with four coming from 3-point range -- to power Utah's quick start. VCU missed nine of its first 10 shots and scored one basket over the opening seven minutes.

Back-to-back 3-pointers from Alphonzo Billups III and Zeb Jackson ignited an 11-1 Rams run that cut Utah's lead to 19-13. VCU eventually pulled within a basket before the Utes' offense sprang to life again.

Consecutive 3-pointers from Carlson and Madsen extended Utah's lead to 29-20. The Utes knocked down seven long-distance baskets on 16 attempts (43.8 percent) before halftime.

Utah's second-half start mirrored its first half. Four straight baskets from Smith and Madsen produced an 11-0 run that put Utah up 47-28 with 16:13 remaining. The Utes were able to pull away after VCU missed 11 of its first 14 second-half shots.

Utah led by as many as 29 points after halftime, going up 71-42 on a 3-pointer from Hunter Erickson with 6:28 left.

--Field Level Media