Tyler Kepkay, Jim Boylen
Dec. 12, 2007
Game #9 - Utah (5-3) vs. Missouri State (5-2)
12:05 p.m. MST - Saturday, December 15
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: First Meeting Last Meeting: N/A
Runnin' Utes Host Bears Saturday
The University of Utah men's basketball team will wrap up finals week with a test from the Missouri Valley Conference Saturday at the Jon M. Huntsman Center. Missouri State will visit Salt Lake City for the first-ever matchup between the Bears and the Runnin' Utes. Tipoff is slated for 12:05 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on The Mtn.
Utah comes into Saturday's game with a 5-3 record, coming off a 75-65 loss to now-16th-ranked Oregon. The Runnin' Utes had their chances against the nationally-ranked Ducks, but had trouble scoring down the stretch. Utah's Tyler Kepkay scored a career-high 23 points to lead all scorers in the contest.
Missouri State is 5-2 coming into the contest. The Bears have had an even longer break for exams than Utah, with their last game coming back on Dec. 5. Missouri State is paced by Deven Mitchell, who leads the team with 16.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. The Bears have five players averaging more than nine points per game.
Runnin' Ute Fast Breaks
Four Utah players are averaging double-digit points per game, while three more average 6.0 or more.
Utah held Oregon to a season-low 75 points Saturday. The Ducks had been averaging 91.3 points a game.
Utah has held three different opponents to 52 points or less this season. The Runnin' Utes did not hold a single 2006-07 opponent to less than 55 points.
Utah is 13-6 all-time versus current members of the Missouri Valley Conference.
The Utes currently rank No. 1 in the MWC and No. 4 in the nation (Dec. 9 ranking) in field-goal percentage, converting at a .523 clip.
Utah ranks last in the Mountain West Conference in field-goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot .428. However, the Utes are ranked 157th in the nation in this category after finishing 322nd last year.
Oregon was the first team to shoot better than .500 from the floor against Utah. That includes Santa Clara, which shot .489 against the Utes and currently leads the nation at .541.
Utah is the top shooting team 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 eight games. Utah is converting at a .523 clip, which is tops in the league and No. 5 in the nation (as of Dec. 9).
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 61-of-146 from behind the arc, for a percentage of .418.
Junior guard Tyler Kepkay was the only Utah player to score in double digits Saturday vs. Oregon. The College of Eastern Utah product and Vancouver, B.C. native nearly single-handedly kept Utah in the game with the Ducks. At one point in the first half, the former boxer landed enough blows to score nine straight points and turn a five-point deficit into a four-point Utah lead. He finished with a career-high 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting, including 4-of-9 from 3-point range. Kepkay averaged 27.9 points per game in junior college last season.
Hot Hand Luke
Junior center Luke Nevill ranked ninth in the nation in field-goal percentage last season, shooting .637. The 7-foot 1-inch Aussie isn't quite that hot in the early going this season. But for the first time in nearly a month, his shooting percentage is above .500 (.506). The Preseason All-MWC selection has converted at least 50 percent of his shot attempts in all but one game this season. Nevill missed time in Saturday's game with foul trouble and a bloody nose. His nine-point outing was a season-low and the first time he didn't reach 10 or more this year.