Senior guard Marc Jackson leads the Runnin' Utes into conference play on Monday.
Jan. 7, 2005
The Game At A Glance
Utah Head Coach: Ray Giacoletti UNLV Head Coach: Lon Kruger Alma Mater: Minot State, 1985 Alma Mater: Kansas State, 1975 Record at Utah: 12-3 (1st Season) Record at UNLV: 7-5 (1st Season) Overall Record: 129-86 (8th Season) Overall Record: 325-238 (19th Season)
Television: ESPN. Dave Pasch (play-by-play) and Jimmy Dykes (analyst).
Radio: Utah Sports Network (Hot Ticket 700/KALL-AM in Salt Lake City and affiliate stations). On the Internet at www.UtahUtes.com and www.HotTicket700.com. Matt Thomas (play-by-play), Mark Rydalch (analyst) and Bill Riley (host).
Series Record: Utah leads 15-13 Utah's Record Home/Away/Neutral: 9-2/5-9/1-2 Current Streak: Utah has won 3 Last Meeting: Utah won 73-70 on March 13, 2004 in Denver, Colo. (MWC Tournament championship)
The Runnin' Utes head to the front range of the Rocky Mountains. Utah faces Wyoming on Saturday, Jan. 15 at 4:00 p.m. (MST) in Laramie, Wyo., and Colorado State on Monday, Jan. 17 at 6:00 p.m. (MST) in Fort Collins, Colo. Both games will be televised by KJZZ-TV. Quickly On Utah
The Runnin' Utes (12-3) open Mountain West Conference play against UNLV (7-5) on Monday at 10:00 p.m. (MST) at the Jon M. Huntsman Center (15,000) in Salt Lake City. The game will be televised as part of ESPN's "Big Monday" and broadcast on Hot Ticket 700 (KALL-AM) and the Utah Sports Network. It is the last of five straight home games for the Utes, who are 9-0 in the Huntsman Center this season.
Utah won its seventh consecutive game and eighth in the last nine with an 81-60 over Whitworth on Wednesday night in Salt Lake City. Last Monday night, the Runnin' Utes got a 69-55 home win over LSU.
Sophomore center/forward Andrew Bogut (7-0, 240) leads the Utes in scoring (20.2 ppg), rebounding (11.5 rpg), blocked shots (26) and field goal percentage (63.4). Bogut has 10 double-doubles this season to lead the nation. Senior guard Marc Jackson (6-1, 175) is second in scoring (11.8 ppg), hitting 56.1 percent of his three-point attempts (32-of-57) and 87.8 percent of his free throws. Sophomore forward Justin Hawkins (6-5, 220) is fourth in scoring (9.0 ppg) and is second in rebounding (3.8 rpg). Junior guard Tim Drisdom (6-3, 210) leads the Utes in assists (3.4 apg) and has a 2.26 assists to turnover ratio.
From The Training Room
Sophomore forward Justin Hawkins has been suffering from a sore back since the Weber State game on Dec. 28. After being limited to just 13 minutes against Colorado on Dec. 30, Hawkins did not play against LSU or Whitworth. He is questionable for the UNLV game.
Junior forward/guard Richard Chaney broke two bones in his left hand on Dec. 27 in practice and had surgery two days later. Chaney could be out 4-6 weeks, but will be re-evaluated on Jan. 13. Chaney has started 10 games and played in 11 this season, averaging 11.5 points per game to rank third on the team. He is also averaging 2.7 rebounds in 27.2 minutes per game, and has 17 assists and 10 steals this season.
Scouting The Runnin' Rebels
UNLV is 7-5 overall and 2-3 on the road this season, opening Mountain West play at Utah on Monday. The Runnin' Rebels have taken four of their last five games, including a 92-80 win over Fort Lewis in Las Vegas on Wednesday night. In the game prior to that, UNLV lost at Texas 89-82 on Jan. 2.
Senior forward Odartey Blankson (6-7, 220) ranks sixth the MWC in scoring (16.9 ppg), fourth in rebounding (9.1 rpg) and fifth in free throw percentage (84.6). Senior guard/forward Romel Beck (6-7, 185) is seventh in the Mountain West in scoring (16.8 ppg), sixth in three-point percentage (45.3), and fourth in free throw percentage (85.4). Senior guard Jerel Blassingame (5-10, 170) is 15th in the conference in scoring (11.3 ppg), first in assists (7.58 apg), second in assist/turnover ratio (20.2), 10th in free throw percentage (76.2) and 15th in steals (1.08). Junior forward Luis Amundson is third in the MWC in rebounding (9.2 rpg).
The Rebels rank second in the Mountain West in scoring offense (82.6 ppg), eight in scoring defense (73.9 rpg) and fifth in rebound margin (+3.0 rpg).
Head Coach Lon Kruger
A veteran of two decades as a head coach on the collegiate and professional levels, Lon Kruger took over as UNLV's head coach this season after a four-year stint in the NBA. Following an 18-year career as one of the nation's most successful college coaches, Kruger spent three seasons (2000-03) as the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks and then part of the 2003-04 season as an assistant with the New York Knicks.
At the collegiate level, Kruger compiled an impressive 318-233 (.577) overall mark in 18 previous seasons as a head coach at Pan American (1982-86), Kansas State (1986-90), Florida (1990-96) and Illinois (1996-2000). Kruger piloted his teams to the postseason on 11 different occasions, with nine appearances in the NCAA Tournament and two in the NIT. He compiled seven 20-plus victory seasons, was a two-time SEC Coach of the Year (1992 and 1994) and led his 1993-94 Florida squad to the NCAA Final Four.
Utah vs. UNLV Series Notes
Utah and UNLV meet for the 29th time on Monday night. The Utes lead the series 15-13 and have taken nine of the last 12 games, including three in a row.
Utah took all three games last season, winning 72-67 on Jan. 12 at the Thomas & Mack Center, 70-56 on Feb. 9 in Salt Lake City, and 73-70 on March 13 in the MWC Tournament championship game.
In conference regular-season play, Utah has a 10-2 advantage, winning eight of the last nine.
Utah has a 9-2 edge in games played in Salt Lake City and has won six in a row. UNLV's last win in Salt Lake City was on Jan. 21, 1982 (76-67) in a nonconference tilt.
Ray Giacoletti has never faced UNLV.
Lon Kruger is 0-1 against Utah. His Florida team lost to the Utes 81-78 on April 1, 1992 in the NIT Final Four.
Nick Jacobson hit a three-pointer with 1.8 seconds left, giving Utah a 73-70 win over UNLV in the 2004 Mountain West Tournament championship game and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
UNLV's Odartey Blankson made a three-pointer with 21 seconds remaining to tie it 70-all, but Jacobson hit the clincher from the left wing.
Blankson had 23 points and Jerel Blassingame 22 for UNLV, the No. 4 seed.
Utah rebounded from a 10-point deficit early in the second half thanks to a 16-4 run that included six points by Tim Frost. Chaney followed with a three-point basket and Jacobson with a pair of three-pointers to make it 58-52 with 9:37 left.
Blankson hit back-to-back three-pointers to help cut the deficit to 64-63 with 5:03 remaining. After an exchange of free throws, Blankson scored on a spin move in the lane and the Rebels trailed 68-67 with 37 seconds left. Bogut hit two free throws for a 70-67 lead with 35 seconds to go.
Blassingame had 17 points in the first half and Blankson 10 to lead UNLV to a 41-33 halftime lead. Jacobson and Chaney had 10 points apiece for Utah, which shot only 33 percent in the half compared to UNLV's 54 percent.
Chaney scored eight straight points as the Utes took an early 10-7 lead, but Blassingame then triggered a 20-10 run, scoring 15 of the Rebels' 20 points.
Blassingame scored the first 12 points of the surge, including a pair of fastbreak layups and a three-point basket. Blassingame capped the flurry with another three-pointer for a 29-22 lead with 6:13 left in the half.
Utah responded with six straight points, including four by Bogut, to cut the deficit to 29-28. But UNLV's James Peters followed with a three-point play and Romel Beck with a shot off the glass. Blankson hit a three-pointer from the corner with four seconds remaining.
Let The Conference Games Begin
The Runnin' Utes have the most wins in league games in the five-year history of the Mountain West Conference. Utah is 50-20 (.714) in MWC games, including 32-3 at home and 18-17 on the road. BYU is second at 45-25 (.643), followed by UNLV and BYU at 41-29 (.586).
Utah is 4-1 in Mountain West Conference openers overall and 2-0 at home. The Runnin' Utes' only loss in an MWC opener was at San Diego State (58-56) on Jan. 18, 2003. Last year, Utah defeated UNLV (72-67) on Jan. 12 in Las Vegas.
First year Ute head coach Ray Giacoletti was 5-2 in conference openers overall and 2-1 at home during his stints at North Dakota State and Eastern Washington.
Runnin' Utes On ESPN's Big Monday
Utah is making the first of its two appearances this season on ESPN's "Big Monday" against UNLV. Utah has a 21-7 record all-time on "Big Monday," including a 13-2 record at home and an 8-5 mark on the road. The Runnin' Utes make their second ESPN "Big Monday" appearance against BYU on Jan. 31 in Provo, Utah.
Boasting Of Bogut, Utah's Wooden and Naismith Awards Candidate
Sophomore forward Andrew Bogut (7-0, 240) has been named to the 2004 John R. Wooden Preseason All-America Team and is a preseason candidate for the Naismith Award. Last season, Bogut was honored as the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year, second team all-MWC, and second team All-District 13 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). He also made the CollegeInsider.com all-freshman team.
Bogut leads the Utes in scoring (20.2 ppg), rebounds (11.5 rpg), blocked shots (26), steals (20) and field goal percentage (63.4). He is also third in assists (2.4 apg), and is shooting 72.0 percent from the free throw line. He has led the Utes in scoring 11 times and rebounding 14 times this season.
Bogut has had double-doubles in 11 of the 15 games this season to rank first in the nation in that category. Bogut had a string of seven double-doubles before getting 23 points and eight rebounds in 18 minutes in a blow-out of Whitworth on Wednesday night. He has 25 double-doubles in his career.
Bogut has scored in double figures all 15 games this season, bringing his double-figure scoring streak to 17 consecutive games dating back to last season.
He has nine 20-point games this season, including eight games in a row, to bring his career total to 12.
In the NCAA statistical rankings released on Jan. 4, Bogut was fourth in rebounds per game (11.8), 19th in points per game (20.0) and 17th in field goal percentage (62.4).
Bogut has been at his best in the last eight games, leading the Utes to a seven-game winning streak after a 67-62 loss at No. 15 Arizona. During that span, he has averaged 23.6 points and 13.0 rebounds in 32.4 minutes per game.
Jackson Back In Action
Senior guard Marc Jackson (6-1, 175) has rejoined the team for his senior year after electing to take off the 2003-04 season. He is the Utes' best three-point shooter, hitting 56.1 percent and making 32-of-57 from beyond the arc. Jackson is second on the team in scoring (11.8 ppg) and first in free throw percentage (87.8), and is shooting 53.7 percent from the field.
He has scored in double figures in nine of the 15 games this year, including the last two games. Jackson had 18 points--equalling his second-highest total of the season--against Whitworth on Wednesday night. He set a career high with five three-pointers in just six attempts. Jackson had 15 points against LSU on Monday, making four three-pointers in four attempts.
In the NCAA statistical rankings released on Jan. 4, Jackson ranked 17th in free throw percentage (89.4).
In the last eight games, Jackson has had 31 assists and 17 turnovers. Jackson had a career-high tying six assists against Cal Poly on Dec. 22. He had five assists against Whitworth on Jan. 5, marking the ninth time in his career and fourth time this season he posted at least five assists in a game.
Utes Own Share Of Nation's Best Conference Championship Run
Utah lays claim to one of the nation's best conference championship runs over the past 14 seasons. The Utes have won 10 regular-season conference titles during that period. Cincinnati (Conference USA) and Kentucky (SEC) won regular-season titles in their respective leagues last season to draw even with Utah for the top mark.
Utah has won a piece of the regular season title three times in the five-year history of the Mountain West Conference, including the first two years, to continue a string of seven straight regular-season league titles. The Utes went 10-4 in conference play in 1999-2000 to share the inaugural Mountain West Conference championship with UNLV. Utah also went 10-4 in 2000-01 to split the title with Brigham Young and Wyoming. Utah went 11-3 to share the Mountain West Conference title with BYU in 2002-03 and posted its best record in five years as a league member. It was also the Utes' best conference record since going 14-0 in its final season in the Western Athletic Conference in 1999. Last season, Utah finished third in the Mountain West with a 9-5 record.
They've Got The License To Shoot
In order to take a three-point shot, Utah players have to earn their license first. A Ute player earns his "License to Shoot" from the coaching staff by making 35 of 50 three-pointers from all over the floor during a drill that can be attempted once a day before the season. It must be completed five times. Utes who have earned their "License to Shoot" for 2004-05 are Andrew Bogut, Richard Chaney, Tim Drisdom, Casey Iverson, Justin Hawkins, Marc Jackson, Jonas Langvad and Bryant Markson.
Utah is shooting 40.0 percent from three-point range this season, ranking first in the Mountain West Conference. The Utes have shot 40 percent or better eight times this year--winning all of those games--and at least 50 percent three times: a season-high 58.3 percent (7-of-12) against High Point, 50.0 percent (7-of-14) against Northern Colorado and 54.5 percent (6-of-11) against Whitworth.
The Utes have hit a season-best seven three-pointers on four occasions: High Point, Arizona, Northern Colorado, LSU.
The leading three-point shooter on the team is Marc Jackson, who is hitting 56.1 percent (32-of-57) from beyond the arc. Casey Iverson (45.5) has the second-best percentage on the team, making 5-of-11 treys. Richard Chaney is third (39.1), followed by Jonas Langvad (38.5), Tim Drisdom (37.9) and Bryant Markson (33.3).
The Utes' proficiency from three-point range has helped them shoot 52.3 percent from the field on the season, ranking first in the MWC. Utah ranked 10th in the NCAA in field goal percentage (51.7) as of Jan. 4. The U. has shot 50 percent or better from the floor in eight games, going 7-1 in those games.
Utes Tough At Home In The Huntsman Center
Utah is 219-19 (.920) in the Huntsman Center over the last 16 seasons and has never lost back-to-back home games. The Utes are 9-0 at home this season.
The Utes have captured 41 of their last 43 games at home with their only two losses coming to Colorado State on March 6, 2003, ending a 16-game home winning streak, and a 59-57 loss to Air Force on Feb. 21, terminating a string of 15 consecutive home wins.
Dating back to the 1993-94 season, the Utes have won 157 of their last 168 games in the Jon M. Huntsman Center.
In conference home games over the last 10 years, Utah is 71-4 (.947). That mark ranks second-best in the nation over that period to Kansas, which is 74-4 (.949).
Utah has won 33 consecutive nonconference games in the Huntsman Center, last falling to Utah State (78-65) on Nov. 23, 2001.