When Jaden McClanahan walked into Johnson Coliseum on the Sam Houston State University campus on Thursday, he made an interesting statement.
“Magic is gonna happen tonight.”
Knowing he was going to be in the starting lineup for the Utah Valley Wolverines, it would seem as though McClanahan was full of confidence.
Whatever it was that led to that statement prior to Thursday night’s contest against Sam Houston is irrelevant. What is relevant is that McClanahan made a statement of fact.
Magic did, indeed, happen.
Standing all of 5’10 although that might be disputed by some, McClanahan put Utah Valley on his back and willed the Wolverines to a 79-73 overtime win over the Sam Houston Bearkats.
With the win, Utah Valley is a perfect 5-0 against Sam Houston and a perfect 3-0 record in Huntsville.
McClanahan had an 11-point, 13-rebound, 3-assist stat line. Yes, you read that correctly. The smallest player on the floor finished with a game-high 13 rebounds.
“Jaden was huge rebounding the ball as the smallest guy on the floor,” Utah Valley head coach Todd Phillips said.”
The heroics took a minute to kick in as things were quite cold inside Johnson Coliseum early on.
Utah Valley shot 37 percent from the field in the first half. And the Wolverines were ice cold at the free throw line going just 2-11 in the opening frame.
Sam Houston wasn’t much better. The Bearkats shot below 20 percent from the field and were just 1-10 from 3-point land. Fortunately, Utah Valley couldn’t stop fouling so the Bearkats got to the free throw line 21 times, making 16 of those attempts to take a 27-24 halftime lead.
After halftime, things started to warm up inside Johnson Coliseum. After Jaden McClanahan gave Utah Valley a 28-27 lead, Sam Houston responded with a 9-0 run to take a 8-point lead. However, McClanahan stopped the bleeding to cut the deficit back to 6 with 16:29 to play.
McClanahan’s bucket started a 15-2 run for the for the Wolverines, giving Utah Valley a 45-38 lead midway through the second half. However, after Anthony Wrzeszcz knocked down a 3-pointer to start a 9-2 Sam Houston run, we were all square at 47 with nine minutes remaining.
The narrative of Thursday night’s matchup was runs.
Caleb Stone-Carrawell started a 6-0 run giving Utah Valley the lead back with 6:22 to play. But, Sam Houston responded with its own 6-0 run to tie things back up.
With 1:41 remaining, Trevin Dorius knocked down a pair of free throws giving Utah Valley a 64-54 lead. The game was over.
Lamar Wilkerson had other ideas. Wilkerson scored five straight points and eight of the last 10 including the game-tying 3-pointer with 15 seconds left.
Fans inside Johnson Coliseum got some free basketball.
In the overtime period, K’mani Doughty became the man for Utah Valley. Doughty scored seven of Utah Valley’s 15 points in the extra frame including a pair of free throws to seal the 6-point win. Along with Doughty, Caleb Stone-Carrawell hit a pair of big shots in the extra fame and Jaden McClanahan finished off his night with a pair of free throws.
“These kinds of games make your blood pressure go through the roof,” Phillips said. “Our guys showed great resilience and stepped up and made some big shots down the stretch.”
— UVU Men’s Basketball (@UVUmbb) November 10, 2023
After the ugly 2-11 performance from the free throw line in the first half, Utah Valley actually finished above 50 percent. The Wolverines were 12-16 from the charity stripe after halftime.
Trevin Dorius finished with a team-high 16 points for the Wolverines. Doughty finished with 15 points. Caleb Stone-Carrawell finished with 13 points while Jaden McClanahan finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds.
Utah Valley shot a blistering 68 percent from the field in the second half, scoring 55 points after halftime.
Lamar Wilkerson finished with a game-high 20 points for the Bearkats.
Utah Valley improves to 2-0 and will get a few days to rest before heading to the East Coast to take on Charlotte on Wednesday.
Sam Houston heads up to Stillwater to take on Oklahoma State on Sunday.