Utah vs BYU- Game Preview

The Utes look to snap a 3 game losing streak to the Cougs and a 6 game streak overall in a game that would go a long way towards quieting Jim Boylen's critics...

Facts and Factors

The Utah men's basketball team (7-9, 0-2 MWC) faces rival BYU (16-1, 2-0) Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. MT. in the Jon M. Huntsman Center. The Deseret First Duel rivalry series game will be televised live on The Mtn.

The Utes are coming off a 71-62 loss on Saturday to No. 6-ranked San Diego State. Utah took a halftime lead to the locker room but was undone by the Aztecs' second-half rally. Junior guard Josh "Jiggy" Watkins scored a career-high 24 points in the contest, while junior wing Will Clyburn recorded his fifth double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman wing J.J. O'Brien contributed a career-high 10 rebounds and tied his career high of six points.

Clyburn remains Utah's leading scorer and rebounder at 18.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, ranking No. 2 in the Mountain West Conference in each category.

BYU is in the midst of a six-game winning streak since suffering its only loss of the season, an 86-79 defeat to UCLA on a neutral floor. The Cougars are 4-0 in road games this year, while Utah is 6-2 on its home floor.

The Cougar offense is paced by Jimmer Fredette's 24.9 points per game, which leads the MWC. He also leads the team in assists at 4.3 helpers per contest. Noah Hartsock is the team's leading rebounder at 5.8 boards per game.

Tuesday's meeting marks the 251st clash between the two historic rivals. Despite more than a century of competition on the hardwood, the series is currently tied, 125-125, following three consecutive series wins by BYU.

Utah's last victory against the Cougars came during the 2008-09 season as the Utes captured a 94-88 overtime victory at the Huntsman Center.

Utah head coach Jim Boylen, now in his fourth year at the helm for the Utes, owns a 63-51 (.553) record. BYU is led by Dave Rose, now in his sixth season. Rose owns a 143-41 (.777) record as the Cougars' head coach.

In addition to being part of the Deseret First Duel rivalry series, Tuesday's game is being billed as the ‘Red-Out'. Fans are encouraged to wear red and join the Runnin' Utes, who will be wearing their red uniforms.

The Game

The Utes played arguably their best half of basketball in the first half on Saturday against San Diego State followed by a decent second half, but were done in by two SDSU scoring runs that ultimately proved to be the difference. While BYU isn't going to play the same type of tenacious defense that we saw out of the Aztecs, they will score in bunches as Jimmer Freddette has been known to put up 10 to 15 points in a 4 or 5 minute span. He's one of the elite scorers in the country and has added new elements to his game from last season, as he's now showing a knack for getting to the free throw line where he's shooting over 88%. Throw in the fact that's he's arguably the biggest three point threat in the country and Utah is going to have their hands full.

Will Clyburn needs to go big. He hasn't been at his best in his two conference games to this point and will need a big game if the Utes are to have any chance.

Jason Washburn has struggled the past three games, not exceeding the 4 point scoring mark in any of those contests in losing his starting spot to David Foster. With BYU's lack of frontcourt size, Washburn needs ot be able to take advantage of his minutes and give the Utes 8 to 10 points and 5+ rebounds.

J.J. O'Brien made his first significant contributuins since coming back from injury, collecting 6 points and 10 rebounds against San Diego State. His return adds more depth to a team struggling to find consistency.

Jiggy Watkins looks to be back to full strength after his 24 point performance against San Diego State. If Watkins can build on that performance, he could force Jimmer to work harder on the defense end than he likes, and possibly get the BYU star guard in foul trouble.

Utah struggled from deep against San Diego State knocking down only 4 of 17 threes. They'll need to be vastly improved against BYU. Part of that falls on Will Clyburn and his quaestionable shot slection at times and propensity to chuck it from long distance early in the shot clock or when off balance.

BYU might be the most overrated team in the country. They've has made the jump into the top 10 with a gaudy record on a weak schedule, losing their only road game against a team with a pulse against UCLA. If the MUSS is rocking and Utah can jump out to a lead, the Cougars may have trouble maintaining their composure.

Prediction

Utah expended a lot of energy against San Diego State, especially in the first half, and could be mentally and physically gasses by the time the ball tips against BYU. Jimmer will be Jimmer and put up a Jimmer like performance with 30+. Will Clyburn will get his with 20+ and Jiggy will follow up his solid game against the Aztecs with another nice effort, but it won't be enough as the Cougars wear down the Utes with a second half run on the back of their All American caliber guard. The Utes drop their 7th in a row and Jim Boylen is called into Chris Hill's office.

BYU 81 Utah 68


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