Bogut scores 21, grabs 17 boards

DENVER (AP) -- For long stretches Thursday, the supposed best
player in the country didn't even look like the best player on the
court. But even when Andrew Bogut and his Utah teammates are less
than perfect, they can do a lot of damage.

Bogut scored 11 of his 21 points over the first 4{ minutes and
the Utah guards took over from there, leading the 15th-ranked Utes
to a 62-49 win over Colorado State in the opening round of the
Mountain West Conference tournament.

Bogut also grabbed 17 rebounds, and wound up with his usual
great stat line, even though there were times he was nearly
invisible thanks to a harassing CSU defense.

"We probably have thrown four or five different looks at him in
the three games" against Utah this season, Colorado State coach
Dale Layer said. "I think we rattled him twice in 120 minutes.
He's mature beyond his years. He beats you in every which way."

With the conference's freshman of the year, 7-footer Jason
Smith, shutting down the big Australian -- even rejecting his shot
three times -- it was Marc Jackson and Bryant Markson who helped
top-seeded Utah (26-4) pull away.

Jackson (14 points, five assists) made two free throws, a
3-pointer and converted a three-point play during a 19-4 run in the
second half that turned a one-point halftime deficit into a 55-39

Markson (12 points) also scored four points and helped Utah with
a three-quarter-court trap that the Rams had trouble handling in
the second half.

The Utes only committed one turnover in the second half.

"We made a couple of plays inside to Andrew, but essentially it
was our turnovers and rebounds in the second half," Jackson said.
"Defensively we have always relied on the second half, which we
shouldn't do, but we do because it's the end of the game and we are
not saving anything."

Led by Smith, 7-1 center Matt Nelson and 6-6 forward Matt
Williams, the Rams (11-17) looked like a team with too much talent
to struggle the way they did this season. Smith roamed around the
middle, hitting a couple shots directly over Bogut in the first

Just as impressive was the way Smith shut down the 7-foot
center. After Bogut, a sophomore who is expected to declare for the
NBA draft after the season, scored the first 11 points for Utah, he
had trouble finding anything open in the middle.

Once, he had an easy layup swatted off the backboard by Smith.
Another time, Bogut turned for what looked like an easy shot, only
to see Smith come from the back side to reject him again.

"I usually don't get them that early in the game, but they were
there today," Bogut said of all the good looks he got in the first
five minutes. "Then they made some adjustments and I didn't get
the ball. They did a good job the rest of the game."

A player of his caliber can't be stopped forever, though.

After CSU cut its 16-point deficit to seven with about 4 minutes
left, Bogut took a sweet pass from Jackson for a slam. Moments
later, Jackson made an alley-oop layup from Tim Drisdom to push the
lead to 11.

Nelson had 14 points, Smith had 12 and eight rebounds and
Williams had 12 points for Colorado State, which upset Air Force
last year as the eighth seed and looked like it might pull a
similar upset for a good portion of this game.

Instead, the Rams went home and Utah moved on in its quest to
improve its seeding for the NCAA Tournament. The Utes will go to
the Tournament for the 26th time, but the first under coach Ray
Giacoletti, who was chosen to replace Rick Majerus after Majerus
ended his 15-year career with the Utes last season.