A simple conclusion can be drawn from Cal State Fullerton's 67-43 nonconference basketball victory over Utah Saturday in front of 2,219 in Titan Gym: Give Henry Turner two weeks to prepare for a game, and the guy is tough to beat.
Turner, playing in his first game since straining ligaments in his right foot against Weber State Dec. 4, led Fullerton (2-3) in scoring (22) and rebounding (16).
He also led a defensive effort that stifled Utah (5-2), a team averaging 77 points in its previous six games.
"I was really pumped up for this," Turner said. "We worked and prepared so hard for this game. I don't know if I can put into words how hard we worked for this."
Then put it in numbers. Utah shot 35% from the field, 28% in the second half.
The Utes had 17 rebounds the whole game, or, one more than Turner.
It took Utah more than nine minutes to score 10 points in the first half. At one stretch in the second half, Utah didn't make a field goal for more than seven minutes.
Utah made 21 turnovers, and Fullerton stole the ball 9 times.
"Fullerton did an excellent job of taking us out of our offense," Utah Coach Lynn Archibald said.
Leading the defense inside was John Sykes, a 6-foot 8-inch, 235-pound forward.
Sykes did everything but hog-tie Utah forward Watkins Singletary, Utah's leading scorer on the season, averaging 18 points going into the game.
Singletary scored only seven points, as his game degenerated into forced shots and less-than-graceful moves.
There was the shot while Singletary was falling out of bounds that stayed behind the backboard. Also, the flying, leaning, sideways drive that almost bruised the glass. And there was the time he called for and received a pass as he was standing out of bounds.
Sykes, a transfer from the University of Texas, had expected to back up David Moody at center. But Moody, who had not played in a game, decided to redshirt the rest of the season and Sykes found himself in the starting lineup.
"I guess I should thank David for redshirting," Sykes said.
Fullerton led, 37-24, by halftime, with Turner scoring 16 points.
"We couldn't find anyone to stop Henry," Archibald said. "Fullerton really is a different team with him playing."
Which was Turner's argument to George McQuarn, Fullerton coach, a week ago before the Titans played against New Orleans. Turner wanted to play in that game, McQuarn decided to hold him out. Fullerton lost, 80-57.
"Henry was so mad at me last week," McQuarn said. "He really wanted to play. I'm not really surprised by what he did here today. Henry's a big-time kid. He can do things like this."
When he does, it takes pressure off guard Richard Morton, who has carried the Fullerton offense in Turner's absence.
Morton came into the game averaging 28 points. He scored 19, and said he was more than happy to miss his average.
"When someone like Henry is playing like this it really takes the pressure off me," he said. "It's great, teams can't key on me. They can't cheat."
However, a glaring weakness for Fullerton remains the offensive weakness of its post players. Take away Turner, who plays like a guard anyway, and four front-line players scored a total of 14 points among them.
Sykes and Miller had two points each, though they had their chances.
"We were getting them the ball," McQuarn said. "But when they got it, they'd either lose it or travel or turn it over. That's still an area of concern for me."
Fullerton point guard Eugene Jackson had to be taken by stretcher from the floor early in the second half after falling hard on his back. Utah guard Gale Gondrezick ran into Jackson while on the dribble. Jackson, who hurt his back during the New Orleans' game, was taken to St. Jude Hospital for X-rays. The nature or seriousness of Jackson's injury was not certain Saturday, but Coach George McQuarn did say, "It looks bad."