The Runnin' Utes (0-0) open their third season under Ray Giacoletti on Friday night, hosting Southern Utah (0-0) at 7:07 p.m. (MST) in the Jon M. Huntsman Center. The game will be broadcast on Sports Radio 700 The Zone in Salt Lake City and on the Utah Sports Network.
Utah returns four starters and two other lettermen from last season. The Utes bring back three of the top four scorers, two of three best rebounders and the leading assists producer from last season. Utah went 14-15 overall in 2005-06 and placed sixth in the Mountain West with a 6-10 record.
Junior guard Johnnie Bryant (6-0, 180) earned all-Mountain West Conference honorable mention in his first season with the Utes in 2005-06. Bryant led the Utes in scoring (13.1 ppg) and assists (2.4 apg) while averaging 32.7 minutes per game. The Oakland, Calif., native also shot 45.9 percent (68-for-148) from three-point range and 83.3 percent from the free throw line, leading the Utes in both categories.
Sophomore center Luke Nevill (7-1, 265) also earned all-MWC honorable mention in 2005-06. Earning a starting role in 12 games late in the season, Nevill was third on the team in scoring (11.6 ppg) and led the Utes in rebounds (6.6 rpg) and blocked shots (27). The Perth, Australia, native also averaged 23.5 minutes per game and shot 53.2 percent from the field.
Sophomore forward Shaun Green (6-8, 208) made 24 starts and averaged 26.3 minutes per game as a true freshman. A solid all-around contributor, Green ranked fourth on the team in scoring (6.4 ppg), third in rebounding (3.8 rpg), third in assists (2.1 apg), second in steals (31) and second in blocked shots (11). Green, a native of Salt Lake City, shot 38.1 percent (43-for-113) from three-point range.
Utah won both of its exhibition games, defeating Brock University 92-53 last Friday and Montana Tech 76-50 on Monday night.
• Utah is 75-23 (.765) in season openers all-time and 67-10 (.870) in season openers played at home. The Utes have won 10 openers in a row, last falling in 1995-96 to Kansas on Nov. 25 in the BCI Classic at Kemper Arena in Kansas City.
• The Utes are 85-13 (.867) all-time in home openers. Utah has won 17 home openers in a row, last losing in 1988-89 to Cal State Fullerton on Dec. 1.
• Ray Giacoletti is 2-0 in season openers at Utah. He got a 72-63 win over Stony Brook on Nov. 19, 2004 and a 74-59 victory against Texas State on Nov. 18, 2005. Both games were played in Salt Lake City.
FROM THE TRAINING ROOM
Freshman guard Luka Drca sprained his shoulder in the first exhibition game on Nov. 3 and missed the second exhibition game on Nov. 6. He is questionable to play against Southern Utah.
SCOUTING SOUTHERN UTAH
The Thunderbirds open their regular season Friday night against Utah. SUU won both of its exhibition games. SUU cruised past Canada's Lakehead University 91-30 on Nov. 1 and handled Mesa State (Colo.) last Saturday 71-53.
Southern Utah returns five lettermen and one redshirt from last year's team. The only returning starter is senior guard Steve Barnes (5-10, 185). He averaged 8.4 points and 4.9 assists per game last season while also shooting 48.9 percent (45-for-92) from three-point range. Barnes averaged 11.0 points and 7.0 assists in two exhibition games. Also back is junior guard Justin Allen (6-0, 170). He started 11 games last season, averaging 9.1 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. During the exhibition season, SUU was led by junior forward Nurudeen Adepoju (6-5, 185), a transfer from Daytona Beach Community College. He averaged 13.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.
HEAD COACH BILL EVANS
Bill Evans took over the reins of the SUU program late in the 1991-92 season. In his 15th full season, he has led the T-Birds to three league titles and a 193-209 overall record. In 2000-01, Evans led the Thunderbirds to their first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament, a share of the Mid-Continent Conference title in the regular season and the league's postseason championship. He was named the Mid-Continent Coach of the Year, NABC District 13 Coach of the Year and USBWA District 8 Coach of the Year in 2000-01. Evans is the winningest coach in SUU history.
UTAH VS. SUU SERIES NOTES
• Utah leads the all-time series with Southern Utah 8-1. All nine games were played in the Huntsman Center. The Utes won the first three games in the series and have also taken the last five.
• Last season, the Utes defeated the T-Birds 69-53 on Dec. 10 in the Huntsman Center.
• Utah's only loss in the series was 77-70 on Dec. 22, 2000 in Salt Lake City.
• Ray Giacoletti is 2-0 against Southern Utah.
• Bill Evans is 1-8 against Utah.
• Utah is 12-1 (.923) all-time against the Mid-Continent Conference, including an 11-1 record (.916) in home games. In addition to playing Southern Utah, the Utes are 1-0 versus Centenary and 3-0 against Chicago State.
Utah has a week off before its next game. The Runnin' Utes play their first road game of the season at Santa Clara on Saturday, Nov. 18 at 7:05 p.m. (PST). Utah then returns home to host Colorado on Tuesday, November 21 at 8:07 p.m. (MST).
Head Coach: Ray Gaicoletti
Alma Mater: Minot State, 1993
At Utah: 43-21 (3rd Season)
Career: 160-104 (10th Season)
SOUTHERN UTAH (0-0)
Head Coach: Bill Evans
Alma Mater: Southern Utah, 1972
At SUU: 193-209 (15th Season)
Career: 193-209 (15th Season)
Radio: Sports Radio 700 The Zone.
Bill Riley (play-by-play), Joe Cravens (analyst), Scott Gerrard (host)
Internet: www.UtahUtes.com Get Utah All-Access Here
Overall: Utah leads 8-1
Utah Home/Away/Neutral: 8-1/0-0/0-0
Streak: Utah has won 5
Last Meeting: Utah won 69-53 on Dec. 10, 2005 in Salt Lake City.