Idaho State (3-2) at Utah (7-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, December 10, 9 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jon M. Huntsman Center (15,000) -- Salt Lake City, Utah. Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: ISU 2-0, Utah 7-0. Away Record: ISU 1-2, Utah 0-1. Neutral Record: ISU 0-0, Utah 0-0. Conference Record: ISU 0-0, Utah 0-0. Series Record: Utah leads, 23-4.
GAME NOTES: The Idaho State Bengals try to put together back-to-back wins for the first time this season as they challenge the Utah Runnin' Utes at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City tonight.
Idaho State has a winning record at the moment, but the team has yet to find any level of consistency, alternating wins and losses since tipping off the campaign with a 99-62 romp over Evergreen last month. More recently, the Bengals took down another program from outside the Division I ranks with a 77-50 triumph versus Carroll College last Friday.
As for the Utes, they've had only one blip in their schedule to this point and that came by only two points in a loss to undefeated Boise State a week ago, 69-67. The team made up for it with a resounding 90-77 victory against another Mountain West Conference foe in Fresno State on Saturday. giving Utah seven wins through the first eight games of the 2013-14 season.
When it comes to the overall series, Idaho State has won just four of 27 matchups. Playing on Utah's floor, the Bengals have come up empty in 15 attempts over the years.
Against Carroll College, the Bengals looked like world beaters, converting 55.8 percent from the field and 8-of-17 behind the 3-point line in the lopsided encounter. Tomas Sanchez was the leading scorer for the hosts with 18 points, adding eight of the unit's 17 assists, while Jeffrey Solarin recorded a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Also scoring in double figures were Evann Hall and Andre Hatchett with 14 and 10 points, respectively, to help push the program to a lead as great as 31 points late in the meeting.
Although he did not score in double figures the last time out, Chris Hansen remains the top scorer overall for ISU with his 16.0 ppg, getting the job done with 40.6 percent shooting beyond the arc, while also making himself available in the paint in order to pull down 4.2 rpg. Sanchez checks in with 15.6 ppg and is also a top-notch shooter out on the perimeter (.529) who accounts for 4.6 apg, more than one-third of the program's efforts in that department through five games.
Utah may have fallen behind early in the meeting with Fresno State on Saturday, but the team was able to take the lead at the break and then began to pull away in the second half for the comfortable win. The Utes turned the ball over just six times and ended up shooting 59.6 percent from the field, although at the same time allowed the Bulldogs to knock down 50.9 percent of their field goal tries. Nevertheless, Delon Wright came up with a double- double consisting of a team-best 23 points and 12 assists, not to mention six rebounds, while Jordan Loveridge accounted for 13 points and 11 rebounds. Renan Lenz tacked on 15 points, Brandon Taylor and Jeremy Olsen 12 apiece, and Dakarai Tucker 10 points off the bench for the hosts.
Now the leading scorer for the Utes after eight outings with his 16.1 ppg, just ahead of Loveridge who comes in at 16.0 ppg, Wright has been a statistical machine for Utah thus far. In addition to handing out a team-best 51 assists and making 27 steals, Wright has also pulled down almost seven rebounds per game while shooting a staggering 74.3 percent from the field. Loveridge checks in with a team-high 10.3 rpg, which makes it clear that his strength lies in the paint and not out on the perimeter where he has converted a mere 25.7 percent of his shots.
Assuming the Utes build an early and significant lead against Idaho State, don't count on any outrageous stats for Wright and Loveridge this time around, just as long as there is a win at the end of the 40 minutes for the hosts.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Utah 83, Idaho State 61
12/10 10:31:15 ET