SMU (8-2) at Utah (6-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, December 18, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jon M. Huntsman Center (15,000) -- Salt Lake City, Utah. Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: SMU 4-0, Utah 5-1. Away Record: SMU 3-1, Utah 1-2. Neutral Record: SMU 1-1, Utah 0-0. Conference Record: SMU 0-0, Utah 0-0. Series Record: Utah leads, 3-1.
GAME NOTES: Back in action after more than a week off, the Utah Runnin' Utes are set to entertain the SMU Mustangs in non-conference action on Tuesday night at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City.
The Runnin' Utes have been on a break since losing to in-state rival BYU in Provo, 61-58, back on Dec. 8. The loss snapped a brief two-game win streak for Utah and was the third overall defeat for the program this season, with one of those other setbacks coming against this same SMU squad back on Nov. 28 by a score of 62-55 on the road.
As for the Mustangs, that earlier win over Utah was part of a three-game win streak for the squad, but that came to an end over the weekend with a 72-50 blowout loss at Rhode Island. Nevertheless, SMU is still an impressive 8-2 under first-year head coach Larry Brown.
Going back to the first meeting of the season between the teams, the seven- point triumph by SMU was the first in four tries against the Runnin' Utes. In that game, Jalen Jones put together a monster double-double for the hosts with 20 points and a game-high 16 rebounds, followed by Ryan Manuel and Shawn Williams with 14 and 10 points, respectively.
Utah, which was outscored 18-2 at the free-throw line by the Mustangs, was paced by Jarred DuBois with a game-high 25 points as he shot 5-of-6 behind the 3-point line, followed by Jordan Loveridge with 10 points and a team-best 11 boards.
SMU trailed by just two points at the break against the Rams over the weekend, but in the second half it all fell apart for the Mustangs as they watched the hosts knock down 57.7 percent from the floor, including 5-of-11 beyond the arc, en route to the lopsided win. Ryan Manuel and Jalen Jones both scored 14 points for SMU, the latter also clearing a team-best nine rebounds, but he was guilty of five turnovers. Then again, the entire team had issues maintaining possession as they fumbled the ball away a total of 22 times. Coach Brown has his crew focusing a bit more on defense these days, allowing just 61.5 ppg as opponents convert a mere 39.0 percent of their attempts from the floor. A bit conservative at the offensive end, while the Mustangs have hit on 40.0 percent of their 3-point attempts, the fact is they've attempted just 115 shots from long distance, 103 fewer shots than the competition at this point. Jones paces the group with his 15.6 ppg and 8.4 rpg.
The Runnin' Utes led by as many as 12 points late in the first half against BYU and held a nine-point edge at the break, but that was before the team was limited to a mere six made field goals in the final 20 minutes. Utah finished the outing with just 36.5 percent accuracy from the floor, 6-of-23 beyond the arc, and failed to register even a single fast-break point. Jordan Loveridge accounted for 14 points and Glen Dean 10 more in the setback. Jarred DuBois, who scored just four points, missing all six of his perimeter attempts while also turning the ball over six times, remains the leading scorer for the program with his 14.5 ppg, followed by Loveridge (12.3 ppg) who is also one of the best rebounders on the unit with more than seven boards per contest. Dallin Bachynski (8.7 ppg, 7.8 rpg) always has the potential to deliver a double-double for the Utes and his defense in the paint has helped the team to limit opponents to a mere 57.7 ppg.
Certainly the Runnin' Utes have revenge as a motivating factor and being at home this time around should help the squad take down SMU, but with a low- scoring game even the smallest mistake could cost the hosts a potential win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: SMU 63, Utah 58
12/18 10:31:39 ET