Size really does matter

By By Cody Brunner

By Cody Brunner

When center Luke Nevill and the rest of the U men’s basketball team take the court tonight, they may find themselves looking up. That’s because the Utes will have to face off against not one, but two seven-foot centers from Colorado State at the Huntsman Center.

The twin tower combo of Stuart Creason and Jason Smith have been going up-and-over their opponents this entire season and have already shown the Utes what they are capable of.

The dynamic duo combined to score 22 points and grab 12 rebounds against the Utes (3-6, 8-14 MWC) earlier this season in Fort Collins, leading the Rams (14-7, 4-5 MWC) to a 73-57 victory. Between the two of them, they also held Nevill to a paltry 2-of-7 from the field and only allowed the Aussie to finish with 10 points and five rebounds.

“When one of those two catch it deep, it’s pretty much guaranteed they are going to score,” U coach Giacoletti said. “They are very effective when near the basket.”

Despite a tough loss to rival BYU, the Utes have been on a roll lately. They have now won three of their last five games to lift them out of the conference gutter and into a tie for eighth place.

So, what has been the difference between winning and losing for the Utes?

Defense.

“We’re playing much tougher defense right now,” U guard Ricky Johns said. “I mean, we turned the ball over 25 times against TCU and still got the win. We’ve been working on it quite a bit the last few weeks.”

Meanwhile, the Rams started off their season with plenty of success, winning 10 of their first 12 games. But since the start of conference play, the Rams have been stuck in a downward spiral, winning merely four of their nine league games.

“We just need to find our rhythm again, and we expect to do that,” Colorado State coach Dale Layer said. “We started off the season playing extremely well, so we know what we’re capable of.”

The Rams have dropped their last three games to Wyoming, New Mexico and UNLV and are merely one game ahead of the Utes in conference play.

Utah’s latest victory was its first on the road, as it skimmed by TCU in the final seconds, 70-65. Johns pieced together another solid performance, leading the Utes with 18 points.

The Horned Frogs utilized a stringent low post defense to limit Nevill’s touches, only allowing the 7-foot-1 sophomore five shot attempts.

“It seems like Luke is catching the ball seven feet away from the hoop more often than not,” Giacoletti said. “We have got to make a more concerted effort to get him the ball on the block.”

Despite his lack of shot attempts, Nevill was still fairly effective in the game. The Aussie scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Utes.

“Utah is very tough to defend against,” Layer said. “Nevill is obviously a problem, but Green and Bryant are dangerous from the outside. We’ve got to find ways to make the entries and kick-outs difficult.”

The Utes will play host to the Rams tonight at 7 p.m. at the Huntsman Center.

Lennie Mahler

Johnnie Bryant saves the ball from flying out of bounds on the defensive end in last week’s rivalry match against BYU. After defeating TCU on the road Saturday, the Utes prepare to battle CSU tonight at the Huntsman Center.