Facts and Factors
The Utah men's basketball team heads to Las Vegas this week for the 2011 Conoco Mountain West Conference Basketball Championship, March 9-12 at the Thomas & Mack Center (18,500). The Runnin' Utes are the No. 7 seed this year and will face No. 2 seed San Diego State (29-2, 14-2 MWC) in the quarterfinal round, Thursday at 6 p.m. PT.
Utah is led offensively by junior wing Will Clyburn, a second-team all-MWC selection, who averages 17.0 points per game. He is also leading the Utes in rebounding at 7.8 per contest. Utah's leading assist man is junior guard Josh "Jiggy" Watkins, an honorable mention all-MWC honoree, at 3.4 helpers per game.
Junior center David Foster, who earned his second straight MWC All-Defensive Team choice, is leading the MWC in blocked shots per game (3.2), which ranks No. 7 in the NCAA. Foster became Utah's all-time blocked shots leader this year and has stretched his career total to 215.
San Diego State's leading scorer is first-team all-MWC selection Kawhi Leonard, who averages a double-double at 15.2 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. First-team all-MWC choice D.J. Gay and second-team honoree Malcolm Thomas also average double-figure points at 11.7 and 11.5, respectively. Gay is the team's leader in assists with 3.4 per contest.
San Diego State swept both regular-season meetings against Utah, winning in Salt Lake City, 71-62, and in San Diego, 85-53.
The Utes hold a 53-17 edge in the all-time series against the Aztecs, including a 5-1 record in neutral-site meetings.
Utah hopes to continue its successful history against SDSU in MWC Tournament games, where the Utes hold a 2-0 record over the Aztecs. In their last league tournament meeting, Utah defeated SDSU, 52-50, in the 2009 MWC Championship game. Their previous tournament meeting resulted in a 75-69 Utah victory in 2004, in Denver, Colo.
SDSU is coached by Steve Fisher, who has amassed a 227-151 (.585) record in his 12th season with the Aztecs.
The last time these two teams played was an absolutely embarrassing effort by the Utes. SDSU played very well and Utah was dismantled in every facet of the game.
The athleticism of the Aztecs has proved to be too much to handle for the Utes in the first two matchups. Outside of BYU, nobody else has been able to slow this team down.
Will Clyburn has been largely ineffective since going down with an injury a few weeks ago. For Utah to hang in this game, they'll ned Clyburn, one of their more athletic players, putting up big numbers.
This could be the last game of the Jim Boylen era, and by all indications it will be. A win over a top 10 team and a conference tournament run could save his job. Conference tournaments are known for producing crazy results at times. Can this Utah team make a run? Doubtful, but it can't be completely ruled out.
San Diego State was dominant the last time these two hooked up. There's no reason to think this one will be any different. Utah will hang in for a bit, but the athleticism and talent of the Aztecs is too much in the end. End of the road for Jim Boylen.
San Diego State 81 Utah 66
Utah vs San Diego State- MWC Tournament
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