Sophomore center Luke Nevill was named third team all-Mountain West.
March 6, 2007
MOUNTAIN WEST CHAMPIONSHIP
Tuesday-Saturday, March 6-10, 2007
Thomas & Mack Center (18,500) Las Vegas, Nev.
JUST THE FACTS
Utah (11-18, 6-10 MWC) plays in the 2007 Mountain West Conference Championship, Tuesday through Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center (18,500) in Las Vegas, Nev.
The Utes finished tied for sixth in the Mountain West Conference during the regular season and earned the No. 7 seed in the tournament. Utah opens tournament play against No. 2 UNLV (25-6, 12-4 MWC) in the quarterfinals on Thursday at 6:05 p.m. (PST). Should Utah win, it will advance to face the winner of No. 3 San Diego State (21-9, 7-6 MWC) and No. 6 Colorado State (16-12, 6-10 MWC) in the semifinal round on Friday at 8:35 p.m. (PST). The championship game takes place on Saturday at 4:05 p.m. (PST). The Mountain West Conference Tournament champion earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Mtn.-MountainWest Sports Network (Comcast 37 in Salt Lake City) will televise Utah's quarterfinal game against UNLV on Thursday at 6:05 p.m. (PST) with Tim Neverett (play-by-play) and Joe Cravens (analyst) calling the action. CSTV (Comcast 269 in Salt Lake City) will televise both semifinal games on Friday at 6:05 p.m. and 8:35 p.m. (PST) to a national audience. VERSUS (Comcast 34 in Salt Lake City will show the championship game on Saturday at 4:05 p.m. (PST) nationally.
All of the Utes' games in the Mountain West Conference Tournament will be broadcast on SportsRadio 700 The Zone in Salt Lake City. Bill Riley (play-by-play), Mark Rydalch (analyst) and Scott Gerrard (studio host) are the announcers.
The entire Mountain West Conference Basketball Championship will be broadcast live on the Internet at www.TheMWC.com. Live stats and updated brackets will also be available.
All the action from the 2007 Mountain West Conference Basketball Championships will be available live and on-demand through an exclusive, special broadband Pay-Per-View offer. The 16-game package can be purchased for $24.95 through each of the individual MWC school official athletic sites or the MWC Web site, www.TheMWC.com.
UTAH'S CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT HISTORY
The Utes have competed in 23 previous conference tournaments--16 as a member of the Western Athletic Conference and the last seven in the Mountain West Conference--posting a 29-19 (.604) record.
Recently in the Mountain West Tournament, the Utes were the No. 6 seed and lost in the semifinals in 2006. Utah was the No. 1 seed and lost in the championship game in 2005. The Utes claimed the title as the No. 3 seed in 2004 after losing in the semifinals each of the previous four years. The Utes won WAC Tournament titles in 1995, `97 and `99.
Utah has never lost in the quarterfinals (6-0) and boasts an 9-6 all-time mark in the MWC Tournament. This year's seventh seed is the Utes' lowest in the MWC Tournament.
The Utes' .604 combined winning percentage in WAC (1984-99) and MWC (2000-06) tournaments ranks second among the conference teams. UNLV at .777 (42-12) is first, while New Mexico at .574 (27-20) and San Diego State at .515 (17-16) rank third and fourth, respectively. UNLV also has the best record in MWC Tournament games at 11-5 (.687).
QUICKLY ON UTAH
The Runnin' Utes finished the regular season with an 11-18 overall record and went 6-10 in the Mountain West Conference to tie for sixth place. Utah had won two in a row before falling to arch rival BYU 85-62 on Saturday afternoon in Provo, Utah. The Utes recorded a 93-91 double overtime victory over New Mexico on Feb. 24 in Salt Lake City and closed out their home schedule with a 74-68 win over San Diego State last Tuesday night. The Utes are 9-6 at home this season, 1-10 on opponents' home courts and 1-2 on neutral courts this season.
Sophomore center Luke Nevill (7-1, 265) is the Utes' leading scorer (16.5 ppg) and rebounder (7.6 rpg). He is shooting 63.2 percent from the field, 74.7 percent from the free throw line, and also has a team-best 32 blocked shots. Junior guard Johnnie Bryant (6-0, 180) is second on the team in scoring (15.3 ppg), and has connected on 43.0 percent (86-for-200) of his 3-point attempts and 82.9 percent of his free throws. Bryant leads the team in assists (2.75 apg). Sophomore forward Shaun Green (6-8, 208) is third on the team in scoring (11.4 ppg), and is second in both assists (2.62 apg) and rebounding (6.2 rpg). He is shooting 53.4 percent from the field and 52.1 percent (63-for-121) from 3-point range. Green also leads the Utes in steals (34) and is second in blocked shots (16).
In the latest NCAA statistical rankings released on March 5, Utah ranks third in 3-point percentage (42.1), 13th in field goal percentage (49.0), 97th in 3-pointers made per game (7.3), 27th in free throw percentage (74.2) and 72nd in rebound margin (+3.2 rpg). Nevill is ninth in field goal percentage (63.2) and 93rd in rebounds per game (7.6). Bryant ranks 33rd in 3-pointers made per game (3.0) and 23rd in 3-point percentage (43.0). Green is out of the 3-point field goal rankings for the fifth consecutive week, missing the minimum mark to qualify of 2.5 made per game. His 3-point percentage of 52.1 would lead the nation.
RUNNIN' UTE NOTABLES
Seven of the 13 Utes who have seen action this season are first-year players. Six of those players are freshmen. The nine freshmen and sophomores who have played account for 65.9 percent of Utah's points, 83.0 percent of its rebounds, 65.1 percent of its assists and 67.5 percent of its minutes.
Nine of Utah's 18 losses have come by a combined 27 points. The Utes have lost three games by one point, four by three points and one by four points. Three of Utah's losses have been in overtime. On the flip side, eight of the Utes' losses have been by at least 10 points and three by 20 points or more.
Utah has won its last six games decided by six points or less after losing its first nine this season.
The Utes have shot at least 50 percent from 3-point range 12 times and at least 50 percent from the field 14 times in 28 games this season.
Utah is 2-11 this season when opponents shoot at least 50 percent from the field and 5-15 when they shoot at least 40 percent from 3-point range.
The Utes are 9-0 when leading and 2-18 when trailing or tied at halftime this season.
Utah (11-18) has its worst record since going 8-19 in 1972-73.
After going 14-15 in 2005-06, Utah is on track to have its first back-to-back losing seasons since 1983-84 and 1984-85.
NEVILL NAMED THIRD TEAM ALL-MWC, BRYANT EARNS HONORABLE MENTION
Sophomore center Luke Nevill (7-1, 265) was named to the all-Mountain West Conference third team on Monday. Junior guard Johnnie Bryant (6-0, 180) earned honorable mention.
Nevill, a native of Perth, Australia, became a full-time starter this season after taking over the second half of last year. Nevil was 10th in the MWC in scoring (14.7 ppg), second in rebounding (7.1 rpg), fifth in field goal percentage (56.7) and ninth in blocked shots (1.40 bpg) in conference play. He had four double-doubles against Mountain West foes.
Bryant, from Oakland, Calif., is in his second year as a starter in the backcourt. Bryant ranked sixth in scoring (16.1 ppg), sixth in 3-point percentage (42.9), third in 3-pointers made (2.81), eighth in assists (3.06) and sixth in assist/turnover ratio (1.44) in league games. He had four 20-point games and scored in double figures 13 times in conference play.
The Runnin' Rebels are 25-6 overall and finished second in the Mountain West Conference with a 12-4 record. UNLV is 16-1 at home this season and has won 14 in a row.
UNLV has won four in a row overall, suffering its last loss at San Diego State, 67-52, on Feb. 13. Last week, the Rebels won 85-83 at New Mexico on Wednesday night and cruised past Colorado State, 65-47, on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Senior forward Wendell White (6-6, 215), a first team all-MWC pick, leads UNLV in scoring (14.7 ppg) and rebounding (6.3 rpg). Sophomore guard Wink Adams (6-0, 190), named second team all-conference, is second in scoring (14.1 ppg), second in assists (2.35 apg) and first in steals (47). Senior guard Kevin Kruger (6-2, 185), named to the all-MWC third team, is the third Rebel averaging double-figures in points (13.2 ppg). Kruger is shooting 35.4 percent (64-for-181) from 3-point range and 82.8 percent from the free throw line. He also leads the team in assists (5.04 apg). UNLV ranks third in the MWC in scoring offense (74.6 ppg), second in scoring defense (71.9 ppg), sixth in rebound margin (-0.1 rpg), first in turnover margin (+4.23) and first in blocked shots (5.61 bpg).
UTAH VS. UNLV SERIES NOTES
Utah and UNLV meet for the 36th time on Thursday night. The Utes lead the series 18-17, but have lost four in a row to the Rebels.
UNLV has an 11-6 advantage in games played in Las Vegas and has won two in a row over the Utes. Before the Rebels' recent winning streak, Utah had won two in a row at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The Rebels took both games against the Utes this season, winning 97-94 in double overtime on Jan. 3 in Las Vegas and 70-57 on Feb. 17 in Salt Lake City.
Utah and UNLV will meet in the quarterfinals of the MWC Tournament for the first time on Thursday. The two teams have met three times in the semifinals and once in the championship game with both teams winning twice. The last time they met in the MWC Tournament, Utah won 73-67 in the semifinal round on March 11, 2005 in Denver, Colo.
Before UNLV's recent winning streak, the Utes had won six in a row over the Rebels--the longest winning streak by either team in the series.
In conference regular-season play, Utah has a 13-6 advantage, winning 10 of the last 15. Since both teams became members of the Mountain West Conference in 1999-2000, Utah leads 10-6.
Ray Giacoletti is 3-4 against UNLV with all of those games coming during his tenure at Utah.
Lon Kruger is 4-4 against Utah. In addition to facing the U. seven times as the head coach at UNLV, his Florida team lost to the Utes 81-78 on April 1, 1992 in the NIT Final Four.