Portland, OR (SportsNetwork.com) - Freshman forward Jakob Poeltl recorded 18 points with eight rebounds and five blocks to help fifth-seeded Utah defeat Stephen F. Austin, 57-50, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.
The 7-footer from Austria was dominant in all aspects down the stretch for the Utes (25-8), finishing the game 7-of-7 from the floor.
Jordan Loveridge supplied 12 points and Delon Wright added 11 for Utah, which will play Georgetown on Saturday.
Ty Charles led the 12th-seeded Lumberjacks (29-5) with 14 points, while Southland Player of the Year Thomas Walkup went for 12 points, nine rebounds and five assists in defeat.
"They're very big. Not only are they big, but they're disciplined," Walkup said of the Utes. "They were blocking out every play. That bothered us."
Stephen F. Austin was denied a repeat of last season when it upset fifth- seeded Virginia Commonwealth.
Poeltl brought down an offensive rebound and was fouled with under two minutes to go. He made both free throws for a 52-46 lead, but Charles banked in a 3-pointer at the other end to cut the deficit in half.
Walkup came up with a steal on the Utes' next possession, and Trey Pinkney split two free throws to get Stephen F. Austin within two with 42 seconds left.
Wright made two free throws before Dallas Cameron missed a 3 for the Lumberjacks. After another free throw from Utah, Poeltl blocked Jacob Parker's 3-point try before Parker chucked up an air ball and the Utes held on for the win.
"Well, it's a terrific team that we just played. Very difficult," said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. "I think of the 68 teams that started the NCAA Tournament, you'd be hard-pressed to find any of those teams that was as demanding when it came to a preparation."
The Lumberjacks scored the first six points out of the break to pull within one, then Loveridge nailed a 3-pointer preceding Poeltl's two baskets as the Utes pushed their lead to eight.
Brandon Taylor's layup with just over nine minutes remaining gave Utah a 43-31 edge. Stephen F. Austin would not go away, however, as it responded with a 9-1 run to trim the margin to 44-40 with 6:20 left. Wright and Loveridge each converted a pair of free throws to make it an eight-point game once again.
Walkup kept the Lumberjacks alive with two straight layups -- the last of which coming off his steal out of a press defense.
Poeltl's layup ended over six minutes without a basket for the Utes, then Walkup knocked down two free throws to keep it a four-point game with 2:11 on the clock.
The game was tight throughout most of the first half. Walkup followed a Charles 3-pointer with a jumper that brought Stephen F. Austin within 16-15 with over eight minutes left.
Loveridge countered with a basket that kicked off a a 10-0 run for the Utes. Utah held the Lumberjacks scoreless for 7:12 late in the half, but a pair of dunks from Stephen F. Austin in the final minute cut its deficit to 26-19 at halftime.
The Utes improved to 36-30 in the NCAA Tournament, while Stephen F. Austin fell to 1-3 in its third appearance in school history ... Utah had not played in the tournament since 2009 ... Utah held a 24-16 edge in the paint, but the Lumberjacks scored 20 points off 17 Utes turnovers ... Stephen F. Austin was held to 5-of-26 (19.2 percent) from beyond the arc.