Burns, Tigers roll past Uintah
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.”