Men's Basketball Defeats Utah, 76-64
MALIBU, Calif. - Junior forward Mychel Thompson matched his career high with 25 points and the Pepperdine men's basketball team controlled the boards as the Waves posted their most impressive win of the season, a 76-64 victory against Utah on Wednesday night in Firestone Fieldhouse.
Pepperdine never trailed in the game and improved to 4-10 overall with the help of a +18 rebounding margin (45-27). The Waves did an excellent job getting to the foul line, where they made 27 of 33 (81.8%).
Utah (5-7), a 2009 NCAA Tournament team, actually outshot the Waves 41.1%-38.6%, but was just 10-for-15 with its free throws.
Thompson (Portland, Ore./Stoneridge Prep) had 15 second-half points as the Waves built on a 34-25 halftime lead.
Pepperdine also got 18 points and four assists from sophomore guard Lorne Jackson (Simi Valley, Calif./Simi Valley HS) and 17 points and nine rebounds from sophomore guard Keion Bell (Los Angeles, Calif./Pasadena HS).
Sophomore center Corbin Moore (Cypress, Calif./Los Alamitos HS) posted season highs in several categories, including points (nine), rebounds (13, a career high) and minutes (33).
"I'm excited at how focused our guys came out, especially with only one day to prepare," Pepperdine associate head coach Marty Wilson said. "In other games we've gotten up by 10 or 12 but we started to do things out of character. But we stayed on track tonight and I liked our mindset."
Pepperdine quickly built a double-digit lead at 16-5 with 13 1/2 minutes to play in the first half after Thompson hit his second three-pointer. Thanks to an 8-0 run that included back-to-back baskets by Bell, Pepperdine took its largest lead of 17 points at 30-13 with 3:52 left in the half.
Utah would close the second half on a 10-2 run, however, cutting Pepperdine's lead at the break to nine at 34-25.
Pepperdine pushed its lead back up to 12 a couple of times early in the second half, including at 47-35 with 12 1/2 minutes to go after a jumper by Thompson. But Utah scored the next six points to cut the lead in half at 47-41 with 9 1/2 minutes to go. The Utes eventually got the lead down to five points at 56-51 with six minutes left after a three-pointer by Marshall Henderson.
But Pepperdine recovered by scoring the next seven points, three by Moore, to make it a 63-51 lead with less than four minutes to play. In the final two-plus minutes, the Waves iced the game by going 11-for-14 from the foul line.
"It was nice to get back on the winning track," Moore said. "It feels good to beat a good team. We played really well on the defensive end. Because we defended well and rebounded well, that let us keep our lead throughout the game."
It was Pepperdine's second win over Utah in seven meetings. The only previous victory came in the 1979 NCAA Tournament.
The Waves now take a week off from action and next play at Georgia on Wednesday, Dec. 30, at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. Fans can listen to Al Epstein's broadcast at www.pepperdinesports.com with a subscription to Wave Casts.