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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Check-in time at the Marriott

The No. 25 Runnin’ Utes get a chance to prove their worth on national TV tonight, as they take on BYU in Provo. The matchup is part of ESPN’s Big Monday, and as is the norm for the Big Monday games, will start at 10 p.m.

It will be the 238th meeting between the two programs, with Utah holding a 120-117 advantage. The Utes beat the Cougars two out of three times last season, in Salt Lake City and in the Mountain West Conference tournament semi-finals.

The Utes (17-3) go to Provo riding a 12-game winning streak, and leading the Mountain West Conference with a perfect 5-0 mark. The Cougars are headed in an opposite direction, sporting a 7-13 overall record, having gone 1-4 in conference play.

While on paper the matchup may look like a blowout waiting to happen, the Utes aren’t taking anything for granted.

“It will be a tough game,” Ute center Andrew Bogut said. “It’s rivalry week and (BYU) will get up for this game more than any other. The winner gets bragging rights in the state of Utah and the whole conference.”

Brigham Young is coming off of its first conference win of the season, a 68-53 win over New Mexico in Provo.

While it has been a down year for the Cougars following the departure of seniors Mark Bigelow and Rafael Araujo, Ute coach Ray Giacoletti is still nervous about the matchup.

“They’re a dangerous team,” Giacoletti said. “They have good perimeter players and big solid bodies inside.”

Senior guard Mike Hall is the main scoring threat for the Cougars, averaging 13.8 points per contest. Mike Rose averages 10.2 points per game, and stands ninth in the conference with a 42.1 shooting percentage from beyond the three-point arc.

The big issue for the Cougars will be stopping Bogut, the MWC’s leader in points and rebounds.

Sophomore center Derek Dawes will draw the starting spot, and will be aided by big men Garner Meads, Chris Miles and Jared Jensen.

Bogut says the Utes can adapt to the strategy of BYU double-teaming him or not, and just need to keep to plan.

“UNLV doubled me hard for 40 minutes and we still won by 20,” Bogut said. “They have to make the decision of what they are going to do, and hopefully it works out for us.”

BYU head coach Steve Cleveland has had to be creative in his lineups this season, due to injuries and ineffective play.

Thus far the Cougars have gone with 15 different starting lineups in 20 games. Ten BYU players average 10 or more minutes a game.

After taking over a program that had gone 1-25 in the previous year, Cleveland has gone 136-100 in his seven plus seasons at the Cougar’s helm.

“Coach Cleveland has done a great job there,” Giacoletti said.

“He has brought back the tradition of BYU basketball.”

A win for the U would tie the 2001-2002 Utah team with 13 straight victories. The longest win streak in school history is 23, set in 1998-1999.

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Utah at BYUMonday, Jan. 3110 p.m. at Provo, UT

TV ESPN Radio Hot Ticket 700 AM

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