Burns, Tigers roll past Uintah

Grand Junction’s Casey Burns drives to the hoop for two points over Uintah’s Matthew Cushing on Monday night during the Tigers’ 71-40 win over the Utes.

Casey Burns likes dunks. Any dunks.

He had a two-handed slam in Grand Junction’s 71-40 win over Uintah, Utah, on Monday, and afterward in the locker room, had one more “dunk.”

Teammate Jerreon Dennis, in street clothes nursing a possible fractured bone in his hand, guided Burns as he stuffed a stick of deodorant over his shoulder and into his backpack.

“Behind your back,” Dennis said.

Burns threw it down. “Did it go in?”

“Yep.” Dennis said.

A final, albeit meager, highlight at the end of a night of fast and furious basketball in which Burns finished with a game-high 25 points.

“It’s my favorite thing to do,” Burns said of fast-break opportunities. “Besides a deodorant slam, and the real slam in the game.”

Early, the Tigers (5-3) had numerous steals in which they simply ripped the ball from a Uintah guard, then whipped the ball downcourt in transition.

They were aggressive and precise and wasted no time.

One second-half transition that summed up the Tigers’ game: Broderick Robinson snatched the ball from the hands of Uintah point guard Denver Buckalew and skipped a long bounce pass across the court to a sprinting Zach Kiel, who snapped the ball through the paint to Shane Powers for a layup.

Forget “Gone in 60 Seconds.” This was a fast break in five.

“It’s a ton of fun for sure,” Burns said.

The 6-foot-4 Burns also likes to hit 3s — he made two of them — and play defense. He locked up the Utes’ 6-foot-5 center Matthew Cushing, who displayed remarkable ball-handling for his height. Cushing finished with four points, often in the face of Burns’ man-to-man defense.

But the best defense came with three minutes remaining.

Grand Junction had a 25-point lead when Buckalew dribbled the ball at the basket and stuck a forearm into the first man who got in his way.

Tigers guard Jeff Hansen, who’d been standing still, took a palm to the chest and flopped backward.

And Hansen, curled on his back, was called for a foul.

From the bench, Grand Junction coach Dutch Johnson, seated with his chin buried in his hands, shook his head.

No need to get upset. Not with a 25-point lead.

“Not at all,” Johnson said. “I’m not going to say anything.”

Didn’t need to.

Uintah (2-3), which traveled almost three hours and had a team-high eight points from Brady Davis, could not control the Tigers’ thieving hands and a fast break that was fun for backup Hansen, at least when he’s not taking a stiff-arm.

“I was like, ‘Uh, there’s not much to do but flop backward,’ ” Hansen said.

He was ready to be inserted into the Tigers’ fast-break show.

“You just have to keep the energy up on the bench,” Hansen said. “Especially when they get going like that.”


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