Utah travels to Las Vegas for the Duel in the Desert this weekend.
Dec. 15, 2005
University of Utah (6-1) vs. N.C. State, Saturday; vs. Notre Dame/Arkansas State, Sunday
Cox Pavillion (2,500)
Radio: Hot Ticket 700 AM - Sunday
Audio Stream - www.UtahUtes.com
Tough Weekend Awaits Utes in Vegas
The No. 21/22-ranked University of Utah women's basketball team could face two nationally-ranked teams this weekend in Las Vegas. The Utes will be taking part in UNLV's Duel in the Desert tournament Saturday and Sunday.
Utah opens the tournament with No. 23 (AP) North Carolina State at Noon (PST). The other half of the four-team bracket is a contest between Arkansas State and No. 13/14 Notre Dame. The Utes would face Notre Dame if both teams win or lose on Saturday.
There is a second, four-team bracket taking part in the Duel in the Desert. UNLV, Jackson State, Texas A&M and Detroit are in that bracket.
All three teams in Utah's bracket are somewhat unfamiliar. The Utes have never faced off with North Carolina State or Arkansas State. Utah has taken the court just once against Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish defeated the Utes 69-54 in the Sweet 16 round of the 2001 NCAA Tournament.
Utah enters the Duel in the Desert on a five-game winning streak. The Utes went 4-0 in their recent homestand, most recently defeating Gonzaga 81-54.
Utah Fast Breaks
Utah's 81-point effort against Gonzaga last Saturday was the team's highest offensive output since scoring 83 in the season-opener against Jacksonville State.
Kim Smith is scoring 18.7 points per game through Utah's first seven contests. She is the only Ute to reach double figures in all seven games.
Saturday's matchup will be just the third time Utah has played an Atlantic Coast Conference team. The Utes are 0-2 all-time vs. the ACC, with losses to Duke and Virginia.
Utah is 4-4 against the Sun Belt, which counts Arkansas State as a member.
The Utes are 2-4 against the Big East Conference, of which Notre Dame is a member.
Boom Goes the Dynamite
Utah averages more three-pointers per game than any other team in the Mountain West Conference. Through their first six games, the Utes are hitting 6.7 shots per game from behind the arc. The Utes also rank No. 27 in the nation in three-pointers per contest. Utah's three-point percentage is in the middle of the MWC pack. The Utes rank No. 6 in the conference, hitting at a .318 clip.
Last year, Utah was one of the more prolific three-point shooting teams in the nation. The 2004-05 squad made nearly seven (6.9) treys per game, ranking No. 15 in the nation in three-pointers made per game. That number was also good enough to rank second in the MWC, just behind Wyoming's mark of 7.14.
The Big Sho
Senior guard Shona Thorburn had struggled shooting the ball through the first five games of the season. Coming into last week, Thorburn was shooting just .292 (14-of-48) from the field and .545 (12-of-22) from the free-throw line.
Thorburn turned things around against Weber State and Gonzaga. For the week, Thorburn averaged 18.5 points and 7.0 assists, while tallying 19 assists and four steals. She shot 61 percent from the field (11-for-18) and was 12-for-15 (.800) from the free throw line. Thorburn was named MWC Player of the Week.