Facts And Factors
The Utah men's basketball team (10-13, 3-6 MWC) begins this week with a trip to San Diego to face No. 6/6 San Diego State (23-1, 8-1 MWC) Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. PT. The Utes will then head to No. 7/8 BYU next Saturday for a 4 p.m. MT clash in Provo. Both games will be televised live on The Mtn.
Utah enters the week looking to stop a three-game losing skid. In their last outing, the Utes dropped a 54-49 decision to Air Force. Sophomore wing Shawn Glover tallied a career-high 15 points on a career-best five 3-pointers, to lead all scorers. Junior wing Will Clyburn put up a game-high 11 rebounds, hitting double digits on the glass for the ninth time, while junior center David Foster blocked five shots.
Clyburn remains Utah's leading scorer and rebounder at 18.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, ranking No. 2 in the Mountain West Conference in each category. Junior guard Josh "Jiggy" Watkins is leading the Utes in assists with 3.3 per game, while Foster leads the team and the MWC in blocks, with 3.1 per contest.
San Diego State is led offensively by Kawhi Leonard, who averages team highs of 15.0 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, ranking No. 6 and No. 1 in the MWC, respectively. D.J. Gay leads the Aztecs in assists with 3.3 per contest.
Utah leads the all-time series with San Diego State, 53-16, including a 19-11 record on the Aztecs' home floor. SDSU has won the last three straight meetings however, including a sweep of last year's games and their initial regular-season contest this year. The Aztecs defeated Utah at home on Jan. 8, 71-62. Leonard was the Aztecs' top scorer with 20 points, while Malcolm Thomas chipped in a doube-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Aztecs. The Utes were led by a career-high 24 points from Watkins and a double-double from Will Clyburn, who logged 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Utah is 3-6 on the road this season, while SDSU is 11-0 at home.
Utah head coach Jim Boylen, now in his fourth year at the helm for the Utes, owns a 66-55 (.545) record. San Diego State is coached by Steve Fisher, now in his 12th season, who owns a 221-150 (.596) record as the Aztecs' head coach.
There's no reason to think the Utes will win this game. None. SDSU is a much better team and the Utes have played arguably their worst two games in their last two outings. The Aztecs are undefeated at home on the season while the Utes are 3 and 6 on the road.
If the Utes had trouble scoring against Air Force, they're going to be in a world of hurt against San Diego State. The Aztecs hold opponents to a league best 58.8 points per game. For a team like Utah that is struggling to put the ball in the hoop, reaching 65 points might be a stretch.
Utah has to start by doing two things if they want to hang in with SDSU in this game: win the battle on the boards and stop turning over the basketball (under 13 for the game). SDSU is going to force steals, and that's something the Utes are going to have to live with. If they can avoid the unforced turnovers that leads to easy fast break baskets, they'll have a much better chance of hanging around.
In a season without a dominant team (Ohio State is the worst #1 ranked and undefeated team at this point in the season that I can ever remember), the Aztecs have a legitimate shot at cutting down the nets in early April. Will they do it? Doutbful, as this team has second round bust and out written all over them, but they do have the athleticism to play with anyone.
I'd like to be optimistic, but I can't see any way that Utah wins this game. The Utes are lost… and the Aztecs are going to exploit that. Kawhi Leionard will dominate the glass as the Aztecs force 20 Utah turnovers and make it laugher by the end of the first half by running the Utes to death. The scores looks a lot closer than the game actually is. Chris Hill schedules a meeting with Jim Boylen for Monday morning.
San Diego State 83 Utah 63
Game Preview- Utah at SDSU
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