Andrew Bogut, a native of Melbourne, Australia, was a member of the Under-19 Australian National Team and was named the MVP of the 2003 FIBA Junior World Championships this summer, leading Australia to the title. He averaged 26.3 points, 17.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 blocked shots per game. Bogut became the first freshman since Keith Van Horn (1993-94) to have a double-double in his official debut.
The Utes return three starters and three other lettermen from a team that went 25-8, advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and claimed a share of the Mountain West Conference regular-season championship with an 11-3 mark.
Nick Jacobson is a name that Minnesota basketball fans know. Jacobson graduated from Roseville High School in 1999, after transferring from Fargo (ND) Shanley. He earned third-team All-Mountain West Conference the last two years and was MWC Freshman of the Year in 2000-01. Jacobson led Utah in scoring for the second straight year (13.3 ppg). He was the Utes' most prolific three-point shooter last season, hitting 80 of 189 (42.3 percent). Jacobson also shot 83.5 percent at the free throw line. His four points against Georgia State was his lowest output since getting four points against Northern Iowa last season on Dec. 14. Jacobson ended the 2002-03 season with five consecutive double-figure scoring games
Senior center Tim Frost (6-9, 244), who has not practiced or played this season due to a sore back, was placed on the all-MWC second team in his first year with the Runnin' Utes after transferring from Portland. Frost, a native of Klamath Falls, Ore., was second on the team in scoring (12.8 ppg) and rebounding (4.9 rpg). He also shot 43.3 percent from three-point range (29 of 67) and had 26 blocked shots. Frost is not expected to play against the Gophers.
The Utes' other four returnees are sophomores. Guard Tim Drisdom (6-2, 212) from Artesia, Calif., led the Utes in assists last season (3.2 apg) while averaging 4.6 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. Drisdom made 42.4 percent of his three-pointers (25-of-59) and 81.0 percent of his free throws. Guard/forward Richard Chaney (6-4, 195), a native of Los Angeles, was Utah's third-best rebounder (3.5 rpg) and fifth-best scorer (5.4 ppg) last season. Forward Bryant Markson (6-6, 189), who hails from Monrovia, California, averaged 3.7 points and 2.2 boards. Markson is still recovering from a right shoulder injury that he suffered in the final exhibition game. He is questionable for the Minnesota game, after tweeking it again against Georgia State. Center Chris Jackson (6-11, 247) averaged 2.0 points and 1.7 rebounds last season.
Their win over Georgia State was not a pretty one. Utah's 21 turnovers against Georgia State matched its season-high from last year, set in the second game against Gonzaga. Utah scored just four points from the 14:43 mark to the 4:11 juncture in the first half. They also scored just one point in a seven-and-a-half-minute stretch in the second half. Utah missed all eight three-point attempts
Utah and Minnesota will meet for the third time with the all-time series tied 1-1. Ironically, the two teams have never played each other in their home state before. The Golden Gophers won the first game of the series 90-77 on Dec. 21, 1955 in Lexington, Kentucky. Utah took the second game 104-59 on Dec. 29, 1959 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Utah is 16-16 against teams from the Big Ten Conference, including an 8-1 record at home. The Big Ten team the Utes have faced most is Michigan, going 2-4 against the Wolverines. The most wins Utah has against a Big Ten member is Michigan State (4-1).
The Preseason NIT began in 1985 and is one of the premiere preseason tournaments in college basketball. The tournament field is 16 teams with NCAA legislation allowing for only one team from a conference to participate in a given year. A team may participate once every four years. The first Preseason NIT was won by Duke. Last year's title was taken by North Carolina.
This year's tournament field includes three teams from last year's NCAA Tournament field: Utah, Connecticut and Vermont (which played in Salt Lake City). Five other teams were in the postseason NIT: Texas Tech (final four), Georgia Tech (final eight), Louisiana-Lafayette, Minnesota and Nevada. In addition to Rick Majerus (408 wins), this year's field also includes two other coaches with over 400 wins in Bobby Knight of Texas Tech (808 wins) and Jim Calhoun of Connecticut (645 wins).