Facts and Factors
The Utah men's basketball team (13-15, 6-8 MWC) is preparing to travel to Fort Collins, Colo., Wednesday to take on Colorado State (18-10, 8-6 MWC). Tip-off from Moby Arena is set for 7:15 p.m. MT and the game will be televised live on CBS College Sports.
Utah is coming off a well-deserved weekend bye that followed three consecutive wins, including a 62-60 victory over New Mexico at The Pit and a 50-48 win against TCU. Conversely, CSU enters this week on a three-game losing skid, most recently falling at Air Force, 74-57.
Utah is led offensively by junior wing Will Clyburn, a Mountain West Conference Newcomer of the Year candidate, who contributes 17.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, ranking second and third in the Mountain West Conference, respectively. He looks to be back to full health after being hampered by a bruised heel.
The Utes are also getting a lift from junior guard Josh "Jiggy" Watkins, Utah's leading scorer the last two games and the team's season leader in assists at 3.2 per game, and MWC Freshman of the Year frontrunner J.J. O'Brien, who has scored double digits in three of his last four games. Additionally, junior center David Foster is blocking 3.1 shots per game, including three against TCU which made him Utah's career record holder in less than three years wearing Crimson and White.
Colorado State is paced by senior forward Andy Ogide, who averages 17.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, ranking just behind Clyburn in both categories. Sophomore guard Dorian Green's 2.9 assists per contest lead the Rams as well.
In this season's first matchup between Utah and Colorado State, the Rams got their second straight win at the Huntsman Center, and third straight in the series, taking away a 74-68 victory. Ogide was the game's leading scorer with 28 points, while completing a double-double effort with 10 rebounds. Clyburn led the Utes with 19 points while also logging 10 rebounds to fulfill his own double-double effort.
Utah leads the all-time series with Colorado State, 100-45, including a 36-27 mark in Fort Collins. Prior to CSU's current three-game run over the Utes, Utah had won five straight matchups and 10 of their previous 13 meetings. The last Utah victory in Fort Collins was an 89-79 overtime victory on Feb. 18, 2009, a crucial win during Utah's MWC championship run.
Utah head coach Jim Boylen, now in his fourth year at the helm for the Utes, owns a 69-57 (.548) record. CSU head coach Tim Miles, also in his fourth season, holds a 50-72 mark (410).
The Rams were poised to grab an at-large bid before dropping their last three games including an embarrassing 17 point loss at lowly Air Force. Those losses put a damper on what has otherwise been a successful season.
The Utes are playing good ball right now with the three straight wins, albeit the three wins in a row have come against teams that are a combined 23 games under .500 conference play.
Will Clyburn should be fully healthy and back in the starting lineup again. He injured himself in the win over Wyoming, missed the upset of New Mexico, and came off of the bench against TCU. Is this team better without Clyburn? I don't think that's the case, but the offense is more fluid when he's not dominating the ball.
Jiggy Watkins has largely carried he offense in Clyburn's absence/limited duty while Chris Hines has been very effective in added minutes averaging 11.5 points per game in his last two including a buzzer beater against New Mexico.
Containing Andy Ogide is the number one priority for the Utes. He went for 28 and 10 boards in the first matchup. If he does that again at home, Utah will be hard pressed to pull off the upset.
The first game between these two was closer than the final score indicated and this one should come down to the final minutes as well. CSU's tourney hopes have been dashed and they don't have much to play for other than seeding in the NIT. That'll crush a man's spirit and determination. Will Clyburn comes out on fire and puts up 30 on the Rams, springing the Utes to the upset over the devastated Rams.
Utah 71 Colorado State 68
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