On a roll

With a 13-game winning streak, a perfect 6-0 conference record, and a No. 21 national ranking, one could expect the Runnin’ Utes to rest on their laurels.

Don’t tell them that.

“We continue to remind [the team] that they need to focus on today,” Ute coach Ray Giacoletti said. “We’ve had success doing it just one day at a time, and I don’t think there’s any reason to change anything.”

The Utes visit San Diego State (9-10, 3-3 Mountain West Conference) Saturday evening, and are trying to become the first team in the history of the MWC to start out the conference slate 7-0.

As the winning streak rises, so do the expectations. ESPN.com projects the Utes as a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament. Giacoletti is intent on keeping the focus on the now.

“Teams that have good Februarys play in March,” Giacoletti said. “Teams that don’t have good Februarys watch in March.”

Giacoletti is especially careful to stay focused these days, pointing to Iowa’s Pierre Pierce. The No. 24 Hawkeyes’ top scorer was recently dismissed from school after getting involved in legal trouble.

“You never know when it’s your last opportunity,” Giacoletti said. “Pierce had some trouble off the floor and he’s done.”

On the floor, the Utes have had some trouble starting strong in road games. The Utes trailed at the half in both the Colorado State and BYU games, before rallying to win both games going away.

Ute guard Tim Drisdom thinks the Utes have to begin to get out to better starts, or their luck won’t last much longer.

“We take that as a warning. It’s good that we have a big enough heart to keep fighting, but we don’t want to keep digging ourselves holes,” Drisdom said. “On the road, when you give a team a chance to get up on you, you’re going to get kicked pretty good.”

Giacoletti thinks the Utes will need to get out of their slow start run against the Aztecs.

“They’re very athletic and very dangerous,” Giacoletti said. “We need to keep disciplined and execute the game plan.”

The Utes and Aztecs met three times last season, with the U winning all three. Utah’s 75-69 win at the MWC tournament was their first step to eventually winning the tournament and gaining a bid in the NCAA tournament.

The SDSU game is the second in a three-game road swing. The Utes travel to Las Vegas next for a Monday showdown at UNLV.

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