Following a dominant 98 to 63 win over the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils on Thursday, the Utes will look to celebrate Thanksgiving with a win over the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors at Titan Gym at Cal State Fullerton.
The Wooden Legacy Tournament features Miami and Seton Hall, both of whom competed in the NCAA tournament a year ago, the Utes who finished second in the NIT tournament last year, and also Fresno State, Grand Canyon, Hawai’i, La Salle and Northwestern.
The Utes come into this competition with a two and one record, falling in a close game to the Minnesota Golden Gophers 69 to 78. This year’s field is wide open, featuring zero ranked teams, however, many of the teams in the prestigious Wooden Legacy Tournament hold the pieces to be ranked teams in the coming weeks, including the Utah Utes.
Led by Sedrick Barefield’s 12 points and nearly five assists per game, as well as Donnie Tillman’s 12 points and nearly eight rebounds per game, the Utes will look to capitalize upon their experience and athleticism to topple the Rainbow Warriors and the rest of the field. The Utes have shot the ball very well from deep and will look to continue to stretch the floor while shooting at the impressive clip of 39.5 percent from beyond the arc.
In addition to their successes in shooting the ball from deep, the Utes are shooting an incredible 47 percent from the three. Averaging 81 points per game over the course of three games, the Utes will look to continue their early warm shooting and then buttress that with their traditionally hard-nosed, gritty defense in order to win the Wooden Legacy tournament.
Traditionally, the pre-season tournaments such as the Wooden Legacy Tournament serve as educational tune-ups and aren’t necessarily the most accurate predictors of long-term success, as many powerhouses fall in the tournaments and have phenomenal years. For just as many teams, however, these tune-ups help define seasons and can build immense levels of confidence for squads who fight for a few high quality and high stake wins.