Facts and Factors
Both teams are looking to snap two-game losing skids. Utah is coming off its first home loss of the year, a 78-70 decision against Oral Roberts last Saturday, while Fresno State fell at home to Washington State, 66-55, in its last action.
Junior wing Will Clyburn is coming off a double-double performance against the Golden Eagles, as he became the first Ute to reach double figures in both points and rebounds this year. He posted 21 points and 10 rebounds while handing out two assists and making two steals.
Clyburn has been Utah's leading scorer in all five games this year and the Utes' top rebounder in three of them. He is averaging 19.8 points per game, second-best in the Mountain West Conference, to go with 7.4 boards, which ranks third in the league.
Junior guard Josh Watkins is second on the squad at 16.0 points per game, eighth-best in the MWC, and leads the team in assists at 3.8 per outing.
Fresno State's top scorer and rebounder is Greg Smith, who averages 8.8 points per game to go with 7.5 rebounds. Kevin Olekaibe leads the team with 2.8 assists per contest.
Utah is 3-1 at home this year, while Fresno State is 0-2 on the road, including an 83-56 loss in their season opener at BYU on Nov. 12.
In the statistical matchup, Utah leads nearly every category, including a +15.0 points per game scoring differential. Fresno State holds a slight edge in rebounding, assists per game and steals.
Utah head coach Jim Boylen, now in his fourth year at the helm for the Utes, owns a 59-44 (.573) record, including a 36-14 (.720) mark at home. Fresno State is coached by Steve Cleveland, who holds a 78-82 (.488) mark in his 6th year.
The Utes are looking to rebound from their first two losses of the season. A late first half run by Oral Roberts on Saturday put the Utes in a fifteen point that proved too difficult overcome. They did make a nice comeback in the second half and retake the lead with about 10 minutes to play, but couldn't hold off the Golden Eagles at the end.
Maybe balance isn't always a good thing as not a single Bulldog player is averaging 9 or more points on the year. On the flipside, they do have nine different players averaging 5 or more points. That's a ridiculous number. That said, Fresno State is going to have trouble putting up points on the road without a big time go to scorer and it's a big reason why they've struggled scoring at all this year having not gone over 56 against a Division 1 team in a game so far.
Fresno State just can't shoot the ball. They're making only 41% of their field goals to this point and have been dreadful from three point land making only 18.9% of their attempts, By comparison, the Utes are knocking down 45% of their shots and 30.7% of their threes. Throw in pitiful 58% from the free throw line for the Bulldogs, and they're just not going to score a lot of points.
The Utes on the other hand are going to score a few more points, coming in averaging over 74 a game. Will Clyburn has been magnificent in the opening stretch of the season leading the team in scoring in each game and currently leads them in rebounding as well. Point guard Jiggy Watkins has been very steady in running the team averaging 16 points and nearly 4 assists per game. He does need to cut down on his turnovers with a team high 4.4 per contest.
Fresno does have some size on the inside with 6'10" center Greg Smith, who has been their best player to this point, but he should be neutralized on both ends by the even bigger size of Utah big men Jason Washburn and David Foster.
The athleticism of the Utes and another 20+ point performance by the Utes should help them to cruise to an easy victory as Jiggy Watkins tips in 15 with 5 assists and Shawn Glover knocks down a couple of threes while Fresno State is held in check offensively with only one player scoring 10 or more points. Boylen gets the team back on track in the first of a stretch of three very winnable games.
Utah 66 Fresno State 54
Utah-Fresno State: Game Preview
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