Utes Still On the Rebound

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Although not a whole lot has gone right for them this season, the members of the Utah men?s basketball team have at least proven adept at one phase of the game: rebounding.

Although the Utes are only third in the conference in the number of boards they get, and second in the league in the number they allow, they are first overall in rebounding margin?pulling down 6.9 more rebounds per game than their opponents.

Although they don?t have any one standout player in that particular department (the injured Chris Burgess is tops on the team and 10th in the MWC at 5.5 per game), the Utes still manage to find a way to get to those loose balls (it just might have something to do with having eight players of 6-foot-8 or taller).

In Burgess? absence, forwards Phil Cullen and Britton Johnsen have stepped forward as Utah?s most frequent glass-crashers, both averaging 5.1 per contest.

In Monday?s game at BYU, the trend continued as the Utes outrebounded the Cougars by a 42-26 margin. Unfortunately, shooting 29 percent in the first half and 39 percent for the game rendered the rebounding advantage virtually useless.

Substandard Superstars

Recent Utah teams have been successful in large part because they have had at least one dominant player capable of carrying the team on his shoulders and taking control of a game when needed.

Unfortunately for this year?s group of Utes, there is no Keith Van Horn or Andre Miller (or even a Hanno Mttl or Alex Jensen, for that matter) on the roster.

Consequently, it has been a collective group effort just to make the Utes the fourth-highest scoring team in the conference.

Reserve guard Kevin Bradley, whose minutes have been declining precipitously of late, is still the team?s leading scorer, but his 10.2 points-per-game average rank him only as the 20th-most prolific scorer in the MWC this year.

Following Bradley, Cullen checks in at No. 22 (9.4 ppg), senior center Nate Althoff is No. 23 (9.1 ppg), the brothers Johnsen (Jeff and Britton) are 25th and 26th, respectively (at 8.7 and 8.6 ppg), and finally, freshman guard Nick Jacobson rounds out the league?s top 30, with 7.4 points per contest.

Brutal Ballhandling

Whenever the Utes talk about turning over a new leaf, they mean it quite literally. Following their 11-assist, 20-turnover performance against the Cougars, Utah?s assist to-turnover ratio dropped to 0.89, which, incidentally, is dead last in the conference.