Utes Shut Down Peterson, Cal State Fullerton


If it wasn’t already, the word is definitely out on how to defend against Cal State Fullerton center Winston Peterson.

Utah’s strategy of double teaming the Titans’ leading scorer worked perfectly as the Utes cruised to an 84-63 nonconference victory Tuesday night.

In the last three games, the 6-foot-6 center has not scored more than 17 points after getting at least 23 points in four contests.


Nearly every time he touched the ball Tuesday, Utah had at least two 6-foot-9 players around him. The result was ugly: five points on one of seven shooting. He entered the game averaging 20.9 points.

“They did a great job on Peterson,” said Coach Bob Hawking, whose team dropped to 3-5. “If you stop the leading scorer, it’s kind of a good way to plan your strategy.”

Utah’s strategy was simple: don’t let Peterson go to the baseline, and then double team him once he has the ball. “He was going to go baseline all the time,” Utah starting center Ben Melmeth said.

With his game neutralized, Peterson began forcing the issue in the second half, but he missed all five field-goal attempts.

“He was frustrated,” Hawking said. “We’ll try to make some adjustments. We’ll have some things to work on offensively to free him up.”

It was a tough night all around for Peterson, whose five rebounds were half his season’s average. Giving away several inches across the front line, the Titans were clobbered on the boards.


To compound the problem, Utah (8-2) shot 54% from the field. The Titans shot 36% (20 of 55).

“They outrebounded us, 42-26. I thought that was the key,” Hawking said. “They physically dominated us on the boards, which upped their field goal percentage because they had a bunch of second efforts.”

Keith Van Horn of Diamond Bar and Brandon Jessie of Huntington Beach did the most damage for Utah. They combined for 43 points and 16 rebounds.

Van Horn and Jessie scored 14 of Utah’s last 17 points in the first half to help the Utes take a 50-32 halftime lead. Van Horn displayed it all during the spree, scoring on three-point shot, two dunks and two free throws. Jessie added a dunk and a three-point play.

“They’re both outstanding players,” Hawking said.

Van Horn, the Western Athletic Conference’s top freshman last season, has led Utah in scoring in seven of its 10 games. He averages 20.1 points and 7.8 rebounds.

“He’s an outstanding all-around player,” said Hawking, who saw him play several times in high school. “He’s going to treat Utah fans to a lot of good basketball before his career is over, and he already has.”


Jessie, a community college transfer from Ventura, has led the Utes in scoring in their other three games.

The game was a homecoming of sorts for Fullerton swingman Chuck Overton. The junior from Tucson starred at nearby Salt Lake Community College. He scored nine points in 28 minutes.

Overton was interested in playing for Utah out of junior college, but Coach Rick Majerus didn’t want him.

“My staff wanted me to take Overton,” Majerus said. “I didn’t like Overton. I like him as a kid, but I didn’t like him for what we needed.”

Against the Titans, Utah didn’t need much. After scoring the game’s first eight points, the Utes led by as many as 27 points in the second half. The Utes have beaten Fullerton two consecutive seasons, including 76-73 last year in Titan Gym.