Jan. 2, 2008
Game #13 - Utah (8-4) vs. Air Force (8-5)
Noon MST - Saturday, January 5
Jon M. Huntsman Center
Salt Lake City
Radio: Utah Sports Radio Network
Mike Lageschulte (play-by-play); Mark Rydalch (color analyst) TV: The Mtn.
Internet: www.UtahUtes.com live audio, live stats
Series History: Utah leads 43-12 Last Meeting: Air Force 69, Utah 43 - Feb. 14, 2007 - Air Force Academy, Colo.
Utah Returns Home, Opens MWC Play vs. Falcons
The University of Utah men's basketball team will lift the lid on Mountain West Conference play Saturday, hosting the Air Force Falcons in a Noon tipoff at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.
Utah enters Saturday's game with an 8-4 record, coming off a hard-fought, 61-59 loss at Gonzaga on New Year's Eve. Utah held an early lead in Spokane, but struggled offensively in the first half and trailed by one at halftime. Gonzaga opened two double-digit leads, but Utah wouldn't go quietly, pulling within two by the final buzzer. The Runnin' Utes have seen a three-game improvement over the first 12 games of last season, when they were just 5-7.
Air Force is 8-5 coming into the contest. The Falcons' last outing was a 78-67 loss at Wake Forest on Dec. 30. Air Force opened the season with a five-game winning streak. The Falcons lost their next four, but rebounded to win three straight prior to their loss to Wake Forest. Jeff Reynolds is in his first season as the head coach at the Air Force Academy.
Runnin' Ute Fast Breaks
Three Utah players are averaging double-digit points per game, while two more average 8.1 or more.
The Runnin' Utes lost seven games by three points or less last season, while winning just two of those in 2006-07. After Monday's two-point loss to Gonzaga, Utah is 1-1 in games decided by three or less this year.
Utah has held four different opponents to 54 points or less this season. The Runnin' Utes did not hold a single 2006-07 opponent to less than 55 points.
Utah opens Mountain West Conference play with a 505-321 (.611) record against current members of the league. The Utes are .500-or-better against all eight teams.
The Utes currently rank No. 1 in the MWC and were No. 4 in the nation as of the Dec. 16 ranking in field-goal percentage. The Utes are currently converting at a .502 clip.
Utah currently ranks 4th in the MWC in scoring defense, allowing 61.9 points per game. The Utes were 7th in this category last season, allowing 72.2 points per contest.
Run and Shoot
Utah is the top shooting team from the field in the Mountain West Conference and one of the best in the nation. The Runnin' Utes have made more than half their field-goal attempts in six of their first 12 games. Utah is converting at a .502 clip, which is tops in the league. No other team in the MWC is above 50 percent. The Utes are also the No. 2 3-point shooting team in the MWC. Utah has hit 117-of-269 from behind the arc, for a percentage of .417. However, Utah has been below 50 percent in each of its last four outings and its .406 mark against Gonzaga was a season-low.
Junior center Luke Nevill should become the 19th player in the 100-year history of Utah basketball to reach both the 1,000-point and 500-rebound marks when he faces Air Force Saturday. Nevill currently has 993 points in his Utah career. With seven more points, he would be the 32nd player in Utah history to join the 1,000-Point Club. Nevill's current rebounding total sits at 499, leaving him just one short of the 500 mark.
Junior guard Tyler Kepkay led the team in scoring with 16 points Monday night against Gonzaga. Over the past six games junior point guard has shown some of the offensive skills that allowed him to lead the junior-college ranks in scoring last season. Kepkay has hit at least two 3-pointers in each of his last six outings. He's averaging 13.3 points per game in those six games, while hitting at a .515 clip from 3-point range. Kepkay has also been solid from the free-throw line, going 13-of-14 in that stretch.