Feb. 19, 2007
SALT LAKE CITY -
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No. 5 Utah (7-1) hosts Michigan (9-2) on Friday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. in the Huntsman Center. The two teams are perennial national championships' qualifiers. The 10-time time champion Utes have qualified for all 25 NCAA Championships, while Michigan has competed at nationals for the last 14 years, and 15 times total. Tickets are available online (utahtickets.com), by phone (801-581-UTIX) and at the box office. Live scoring and video streaming can be found at UtahUtes.com.
Michigan was ranked No. 9 a week ago, but is not eligible for this week's rankings because it has competed just twice on the road. The rankings from Feb. 19 through the remainder of the season are based on regional qualifying score, which requires at least three road scores ... Utah slipped from No. 4 to 5 after last week's loss at Georgia ... Utah is 5-0 at home this season with wins over UCLA, Washington, Arkansas, Brigham Young and Southern Utah ... The Utes have averaged 11,449 fans to their three home meets this season ... Utah's 195.475 score last week was its lowest since the 2006 season-opener.
Utah had won every all-around competition of the season until last week, when all three all-arounders struggled on an event. Kristina Baskett
fell on her signature event - the bars - while both Nicolle Ford
and Ashley Postell
missed on the floor ... Freshman Daria Bijak
will get her first start on the beam this week - making her a three-event competitor. Bijak has competed on bars in the last four meets after sitting out the first two while recovering from Nov. 17 knee surgery. She cracked the floor lineup two meets ago ... Freshman Stephanie Neff
is gunning for a place in the floor lineup. Neff did a nice exhibition floor routine at Georgia, despite training it for only one day. Neff missed virtually the entire preseason with a back injury ... A win on the floor exercise at Georgia moved Kristina Baskett
into the team lead with 11 wins. Ford has 10 victories, followed by Postell with nine ... Baskett has one at least one individual title in every meet to date ... Baskett has the best all-around mark by a Ute this year (39.70), followed by Ford (39.625) and Postell (39.55) ... Annie DiLuzio
tried her double twist on vault last week and will decide later in the week whether she'll give it a shot vs. Michigan. Also on vault, Baskett plans to do a one and-a-half this Friday.
is the only Ute ranked in the top 10 this week (Ashley Postell
is not eligible for this week's rankings because she does not have a regional qualifying score due to missing the Utah State road meet). Baskett is fifth on vault (9.90 RQS) and tied for 10th on floor (9.865). She is also ranked No. 11 in the all-around (39.105). Utah's best team ranking is No. 4 on both vault (49.205) and bars (49.175). The Utes, who have struggled with consistency on beam and floor, are ranked No. 8 (48.715) and No. 10 (48.905), respectively, on those events.
Utah suffered its worst loss in six years last Friday in Athens, Ga., self-destructing against No. 2 Georgia on the floor exercise and stumbling to a 196.850-195.475 loss. An attempt to upgrade difficulty on the floor went awry, with two falls and two big errors sending the Utes reeling to their lowest apparatus score of the year. Only Kristina Baskett
succeeded with her upgraded floor routine (9.90) - tying for first. The 1.375 losing margin was the worst for Utah since a 2001 shellacking at UCLA.
Utah has a 16-10 all-time lead over Michigan. Michigan won five of seven from 2001-2004, but Utes have held the upper hand since, winning six of seven in the last three years. The lone setback during that time was last April at the regional championships in Ann Arbor, where Michigan took first and Utah second. The Utes finished the season on a high note, however, beating the Wolverines on the first day of the NCAA Championships. Utah is 6-2 against Michigan in Huntsman Center.
UM is unranked this week because it is short one road score ... 9-2 record includes a win over then No. 6 Nebraska on Feb. 9 ... season-high 195.825 vs. the Huskers ... upset last week by No. 19 Penn State (195.900-195.525) after falls on beam ... top all-arounders are Tatjana Thuener-Rego (39.40), Nellie Kippley (39.35) and Huneth Lor (39.20) ... head coach Bev Plocki has a 330-93-1 in 18 years at Michigan.