Black and blue

The U basketball team gets a much-needed lull in the storm Wednesday evening, squaring off against NAIA Montana-Western.

This will be the first meeting between the two teams. The Utes are 27-2 all time in games against NAIA teams.

The U dropped a 71-45 decision at Utah State Saturday afternoon, falling to 4-2 on the season. They go to Tucson, Ariz., this Saturday to face No. 21 Arizona.

“It’s a toughness factor,” Ute coach Ray Giacoletti said. “When they go on runs, we need to wait and go on our own run. We didn’t do that [against Utah State].”

The Utes will also need to work on their defense. After holding USU relatively in check through one half, the floodgates opened, with the Aggies shooting 82 percent from the field in the second stanza.

“Our help defense just broke down,” guard Marc Jackson said.

The Utes will see how much they have improved in practice this week, hosting the Bulldogs at 7 p.m. in the Huntsman Center.

Montana-Western stands at 9-3, with two of the losses coming to Division I opponents (Montana, Southern Utah). They compete in the Frontier Conference, which is the same conference played in by local Westminster College.

Statistically, the Bulldogs have a different style than the Utes. They average 85 points a game, compared with 65 for the U, but also give up 80 a game, with Utah only yielding 62.7.

Center Andrew Bogut is avoiding a sophomore slump through six games. The 7-foot Aussie leads the team in scoring with 17.3 points per game, 10.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots. His field goal percentage is also impressive, shooting at a 61.5 percent clip.

Jackson is the second-leading scorer for the Utes, averaging 12.8 points per game. He has connected on 60 percent of his three-point attempts, and 89.3 percent of his free-throw attempts. He had three first-half three pointers versus USU.

Senior Matt Luedtke leads the Bulldogs with 22.3 points per game. The 6-foot guard averages 11 attempts from beyond the three-point arc, connecting on 36 percent of them.As with most games against lower division competition, the Utes will enjoy a decided size advantage. The Bulldogs suit up only two players taller than 6-foot-6-inches, with four out of nine players registering exactly 6 feet tall. The Utes trot out six players taller than 6-foot-6.

The main Bulldog hope may come down to one of their few big men. Senior center Bo Segeberg averages 19.2 points per game, along with a team high 9.3 rebounds per game.After the Arizona road match, the Utes will return home to face Northern Colorado on Dec. 17.

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