The UVU men’s basketball team took on Dixie State in an exhibition game as a precursor to their home opener on Nov. 6. The game affected neither teams overall records, so both will head into their home openers 0-0.
Both teams started out a little slow with early foul trouble for DSU and shots not falling for either team for the better part of the first 10 minutes. Nine fouls combined in the first two and a half minutes resulted in UVU shooting a lot of free throws for the last 15 minutes of the first half. Junior center Baylee Steele found himself in foul trouble early as well, only playing just over three minutes before being pulled for the remainder of the half.
“Obviously it’s frustrating being out for the last 17 minutes of the first half,” Steele said. “But all I can do is pick my teammates up from the bench, and help them out as much as I can.”
The Wolverines have seven new faces to their roster this year, between freshman and transfers, Steele says they have already become a family on and off the court.
Junior guard Jake Toolson led the Wolverines in scoring with 22 points, 15 of those in the first half. Dixie State was led by junior guard Jack Pagenkopf with 16 total points followed close behind by senior forward Dub Price with 12.
“I’m really grateful to Dixie State for coming up here, I don’t think there is a team in the country that is better for us to compete against in our exhibition game,” head coach Mark Pope said.
UVU struggled most in the paint for the majority of the game. The Wolverines have three players on their roster that are listed at over 6 foot 10, all of whom saw minutes on the floor, and all found themselves in foul trouble. Sophomore forward Richard Harward fouled out playing just 11 minutes while Steele and forward Connor MacDougall each had five.
“Those ‘bigs’ are really unselfish, they’re really willing to give to this team and do the dirty work,” Pope said. “At that five position, I’m really deep, at the one, two, three, four, I’m not.”
Despite all of the foul trouble, the Wolverines were able to find their rhythm in the second half, where guys who didn’t see minutes or contribute points came alive and helped build a better lead. Steele, who contributed only three points the first half, added another 10 in the second and MacDougall add 10 rebounds.
UVU was able to take the victory 88-70 against DSU and will prepare for their true home opener on Tuesday, Nov. 6 against Westminster at 7:00 P.M. in the UCCU Center.
Photo Credit: Johnny Morris