GAME NOTES: The Utah Runnin' Utes face off against a second straight opponent from the Mountain West Conference, as they host the Fresno State Bulldogs at the Huntsman Center this afternoon.
Utah, which is a former member of the MWC that now plays in the Pac-12, is back at home in Salt Lake City following a trip to Boise State earlier this week. Against the Broncos, the team saw a six-game win streak come to an end as it bowed at Taco Bell Arena, 69-67. Back home in the friendly confines of the Huntsman Center, Utah is not scheduled to travel again until the second week of January when it ventures to Washington for a league battle with the Huskies.
As for the Bulldogs, they are facing the first of back-to-back programs from the Pac-12, with California on the slate for a week from now. The team has won a total of six games thus far, half of those coming in overtime, which is the case with each of the last two outings. Last Sunday, the Bulldogs slipped by Northern Arizona at home by a final of 71-67.
Utah may lead the series by a 9-4 margin, but it was Fresno State that put together a punishing 82-52 win in the most recent encounter two years ago at home.
Marvelle Harris scored a game-high 27 points as the Fresno State Bulldogs captured the four-point overtime victory versus the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks on the final day of the Fresno State Classic at the Save Mart Center. Alex Davis registered a double-double for the Bulldogs with 13 points and 15 rebounds, followed by Allen Huddleston and Cezar Guerrero with 12 points apiece for the hosts.
Fresno State typically goes with a short rotation of players and at this point only 10 have scored even two points. Breaking it down even more, the Bulldogs have just eight players scoring even 4.8 ppg at the moment, which is why there is so much pressure on players like Harris who has generated 18.0 ppg. Cezar Guerrero (14.7 ppg) is another crucial piece of the puzzle, not just for his point production but also for the fact that he is tops on the unit with 41 assists as well.
In a game that featured six ties and 14 lead changes, the Utes were on the wrong side of the ledger when the final buzzer sounded at Taco Bell Arena earlier this week. Part of the problem was Utah shooting 5-of-10 at the free- throw line in the second half, 8-of-15 for the game. Trying to give the visitors a fighting chance was Delon Wright who filled out his line with 15 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and four steals in 40 minutes of action. Jordan Loveridge accounted for a game-high 19 points for the Utes.
Loveridge leads a trio of double-digit scorers on the season with his 16.4 ppg, although that number could be even greater if not for the fact that he is shooting just 25.0 percent beyond the arc. Seeing as how Loveridge is the top rebounder for the program with 10.1 rpg, one has to wonder why he extends himself so far out to the perimeter in the first place. Wright (15.1 ppg) not only leads the squad with 39 assists and 25 steals, he is also one of the nation's top shooters with a staggering 74.1 percent accuracy, lifting the entire program to 54.1 percent.
The Utes are generating 87.3 ppg, which means they are outscoring the competition by close to 30 per game. While Utah will probably hold the advantage in this meeting, expecting the margin of victory to be that great isn't realistic.
Game Date and Time