Nick Jacobson celebrates Utah's win over rival BYU in the MWC semifinals on Friday.
March 13, 2004
The Game At A Glance
Utah Interim Head Coach: Kerry Rupp UNLV Interim Head Coach: Jay Spoohour Alma Mater: Southern Utah, 1977 Alma Mater: Pittsburg State, 1994 Record at Utah: 8-3 (1st Season) Record at UNLV: 6-2 (1st Season) Overall Record: 8-3 (1st Season) Overall Record: 6-2 (1st Season)
Television: ESPN. Bob Carpenter (play-by-play) and Jimmy Dykes (analyst).
Radio: Utah Sports Network (KALL-700 AM in Salt Lake City and affiliate stations). On the Internet at www.TheMWC.com Bill Marcroft (play-by-play), Mark Rydalch (analyst) and Brad Stone (host).
Series Record: Utah leads 14-13 Utah's Record Home/Away/Neutral: 9-2/5-9/0-2 Last Meeting: Utah won 70-56 on Feb. 9, 2004 in Salt Lake City.
Quickly On Utah
The Runnin' Utes, who are 23-8 overall and finished third in the Mountain West Conference with a 9-5 record, face UNLV (18-11, 7-7 MWC) in the MWC Tournament championship game on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. (MST) at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colo. The game will be televised by ESPN.
Utah is 8-3 over its last 11 games. In Mountain West Conference Tournament play, the Utes defeated San Diego State (75-69) in the quarterfinals on Thursday and BYU (54-51) on Friday.
In the NCAA statistical rankings released on March 9, Utah was sixth in the NCAA in scoring defense (56.7 ppg), fourth in rebound margin (+7.7 rpg), 46th in scoring margin (+8.1 ppg), 34th in field goal percentage defense (40.3 ppg), 20th in field goal percentage (48.0 ppg) and 20th in three-point percentage (39.0). Currently, the Utes are allowing their opponents to score 56.9 points per game and shoot 40.8 percent from the field. Utah is presently shooting 47.8 percent from the field and 39.2 percent from three-point range, outrebounding its opponents by 7.7 boards per game and outscoring its opponents by 7.9 points per game.
Senior guard Nick Jacobson (6-4, 206) leads the Utes in scoring (16.6 ppg), hitting 44.6 percent of his three-point attempts. Freshman forward Andrew Bogut (6-10, 233) is second on the team in scoring (12.2 ppg), and is first in both rebounding (9.8 rpg) and blocked shots (44). The native of Melbourne, Australia, has 13 double-doubles this season and is shooting 58.2 percent from the field. Sophomore forward Richard Chaney (6-4, 195) is third in scoring (9.3 ppg), shooting 49.1 percent from the field and 39.5 percent from three-point range. Senior forward Tim Frost is fourth in scoring (9.1 ppg) and second in rebounding average (4.6 rpg). Sophomore guard Tim Drisdom (6-2, 212) leads the Utes in assists (3.6 apg).
Utah Conference Tournament History
The Utes have competed in 21 conference tournaments-16 as a member of the Western Athletic Conference and the past five in the Mountain West Conference-posting a 25-17 (.595) record. The Utes won WAC Tournament titles in 1995, '97 and '99. In the Mountain West Tournament, the Utes lost in the semifinals the first four years before advancing to the championship game this season.
The Utes' .595 combined winning percentage in WAC (1984-99) and MWC (2000-04) tournaments ranks second among the conference teams. UNLV at .778 (14-4) is first, while New Mexico at .558 (24-19) and BYU at .528 (19-17) rank third and fourth, respectively.
2004 Mountain West Conference Tournament
Quarterfinals - Thursday (March 11) Game 1 - No. 3 Utah (75) def. No. 6 San Diego St. (69) Game 2 - No. 2 BYU (79) def. No. 7 Wyoming (74) Game 3 - No. 8 Colorado St. (60), def. No. 1 Air Force (48) Game 4 - No. 4 UNLV (55), def. No. 5 New Mexico (53)
Semifinals - Friday (March 12) Game 5 - No. 3 Utah (54) def. No. 2 BYU (51) Game 6 - No. 4 UNLV (80), def. No. 8 Colorado St. (73)
Championship (March 13) Game 7 - No. 3 Utah (23-8, 9-5) vs. No. 4 UNLV (18-11, 7-7), 8:00 p.m. (ESPN)
(All Times Mountain Standard Time)
The Runnin' Rebels are 18-11 overall and finished fourth in the Mountain West Conference with a 7-7 record. UNLV is 2-0 on neutral courts this season. The No. 4 seed Rebels reached the MWC Tournament title game by defeating No. 5 seed New Mexico (55-53) in the quarterfinals and No. 8 seed Colorado State (80-73) in the semifinals.
Junior forward Odartey Blankson (6-7, 220) leads the team in scoring (17.1 ppg) and rebounding (10.3 rpg). He is shooting 51.5 from the field and 79.5 from the free throw line. Junior guard/forward Romel Beck (6-7, 185) is second on the team in scoring (14.7 ppg) while shooting 39.9 percent (55-for-138) from three-point range. Senior forward J.K. Edwards (6-8, 250) is third on the team in scoring (12.3 ppg). Junior guard Jerel Blassingame (5-10, 170) is fourth on the roster in scoring (10.8 ppg) and first in in assists (6.8 apg).
Jay Spoonhour, the son of former Rebels' head coach Charlie Spoonhour, took over as the interim head coach on Feb. 17. He has gone 6-2 with the two losses coming by a combined three points.
Utah-UNLV Series Notes
* Utah and UNLV meet for the 28th time on Saturday night. The Utes lead the series 14-13 and have taken eight of the last 11 games.
* Utah took both meetings this season, winning 72-67 on Jan. 12 at the Thomas & Mack Center and 70-56 on Feb. 9 in Salt Lake City.
* In postseason play, UNLV has a 4-0 advantage all-time over Utah. In conference tournament play, the Rebels lead the Utes 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the MWC Tournament. The Runnin' Rebels defeated the Utes in the semifinals of both the 2002 (76-70) and 2003 (64-41) MWC tournaments. UNLV also knocked off Utah 54-51 in the first round of the 1998 WAC Tournament on March 5 in Las Vegas and 83-66 in the West Regional semifinals of the 1991 NCAA Tournament on March 21 in Seattle, Wash.,
* Kerry Rupp is 1-0 against UNLV, coaching the Utes to their second win over the Rebels this season.
* Jay Spoonhour has not faced Utah since taking over as the UNLV interim head coach.
MWC Semifinals Rewind
Nick Jacobson scored 19 points, including seven points in the last 4:27, and Utah edged BYU 54-51 Friday night in the semifinals of the Mountain West Conference tournament.
Tim Frost added 10 points for Utah (23-8), which built a 10-point lead early in the second half and hung on at the finish. Rafael Araujo had 13 points for BYU (21-8), the No. 2 seed whose nine-game winning streak was snapped.
Utah scored on five straight layups with crisp passing early in the second half, including two baskets on inbounds passes from Tim Drisdom. Jacobson's three-pointer made it 39-29 with 12:59 remaining.
BYU chipped away at the deficit, then scored seven straight points including Mike Rose's three-point basket to make it 43-43 with 6:26 left.
But Utah's Richard Chaney made a driving layup and Jacobson followed with a three-pointer. After Araujo cut the lead to 48-46, Jacobson hit a jumper with 2:42 left.
BYU's Mark Bigelow hit a jump hook with 1:09 to go, but Jacobson countered with layup on a pass from Andrew Bogut to push the lead back to four points with 50 seconds left.
Araujo, the conference's co-player of the year, hit a three-pointer with 40 seconds left to make it 52-51. Utah got a new shot clock when BYU's Kevin Woodberry committed a foul, and Chaney broke free and made a layup on a pass from Bogut with 0.2 seconds to go. BYU's Mike Hall missed a three-pointer at the buzzer.
Bogut and Jacobson each had seven points in the first half to help Utah take a 26-20 halftime lead. BYU had only one offensive rebound in the half and was outrebounded 19-14 overall.
MWC Semifinals Notables
* Utah's 42.0 field goal percentage against BYU was the Utes' lowest of the season in a win. Utah's previous low was 42.2 percent in a 60-49 win against Wyoming on Jan. 17.
* Utah improved to 4-1 when ahead at the break in MWC Tournament play.
* BYU's seven free throw attempts was season low by a Ute opponent. The Cougars' 62.5 three-point percentage was a season high by a U. foe.
* Utah's eight turnovers tied a season-low mark (also vs. Colorado State on Feb. 14). It was the ninth time this season and seventh time in the last 19 games Utah has had a positive assist/turnover ratio.
* The Utes scored 23 points off 10 BYU turnovers.
* In the two previous meetings this season, Mark Bigelow of BYU averaged 20.5 points and shot 56.5 percent from the field (13-of-23). Friday night, Bigelow scored just four points on 2-of-8 shooting.