Utah at BYU

The Utes carry their four game losing streak down to Provo looking for the upset...

Facts and Factors

The Utah men's basketball team (10-14, 3-7 MWC) faces its second straight top-10 ranked opponent Saturday as the Utes travel to Provo to take on No. 7/8-ranked BYU. Tipoff at the Marriott Center is slated for 4 p.m. and the game will be televised live on The Mtn.

Utah enters the game trying to reverse a four-game losing skid. In their last outing, the Utes took an 85-53 loss at No. 6-ranked San Diego State. Utah was led in the game by junior wing Will Clyburn, who scored a game-high 18 points and tied for the team-high with eight rebounds. Junior center David Foster also contributed eight rebounds, four points and four blocks.

Clyburn remains Utah's leading scorer and rebounder at 18.3 points and 8.5 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.

BYU is led offensively by Jimmer Fredette, the nation's leading scorer in NCAA Div. I, who averages 27.5 points per game. He also leads the Cougars in assists with 4.3 per contest. Noah Hartsock is their top rebounder at 6.1 boards.

In the first meeting between the two squads this season, BYU handed Utah a 104-79 loss at home in Salt Lake City. Fredette was the game's top scorer with 47 points. Utah's highlights included 23 points from Clyburn, a double-double from freshman wing J.J. O'Brien (13 pts, 11 rebs), a career-high 12 boards from Foster and an overall plus-15 rebound margin.

Despite 251 all-time meetings between the two schools, BYU leads the all-time series by the slimmest of margins, 126-125. BYU has won four straight in the series. The last time they met in Provo, the Cougars grabbed an 82-69 victory.

Utah is 3-7 on the road this season, while BYU is 10-0 at home. The last time Utah won on the Cougars' home floor was Jan. 31, 2005.

Utah head coach Jim Boylen, now in his fourth year at the helm for the Utes, owns a 66-56 (.541) record. BYU is coached by Dave Rose, now in his sixth season, who owns a 150-42 (.781) record as the Cougars' head coach.

The Game

The Utes have lost four straight including embarrassing performances in their last two with a home loss to lowly Air Force in which they scored only 49 points, and a 32 points drubbing at the hands of San Diego State.

BYU is good, especially at home. They won't lose a game in their own building this year. You can take that to the bank.

The Jimmer. He's really become a cultural phenomenon. I get it, but if his name wasn't Jimmer, he'd be Aubrey Coleman of Huston or Reggie Williams of VMI, both of whom led the nation in scoring over the past couple of years. That said, he's still a ton of fun to watch and a very good player, as evidenced by his 47 points the first time these two teams played.

The Utes dominated the boards in the first matchup, but that didn't seem to matter as BYU took 18 more shots. Those 18 shots came courtesy of the Cougars taking care of the ball and Utah refusing to do so with 22 turnovers to only 5 for BYU. Unless Utah cuts that -17 different in half or better (and much better is preferred), they will lose this game.

Prediction

A struggling Utah team on the road against a BYU team that is very good and doesn't lose at home. Boylen desperately needs this one, but he's not going to get it as Jimmer goes for 35 and BYU turns a 10 point halftime lead into a runaway. The Utes keep the beating under 20, barely.

BYU 89 Utah 70

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