Utes looking for comeback

By By Marco Villano, Staff Writer

By Marco Villano, Staff Writer

The Runnin’ Utes are relying on their short-term memory after the Southwest Baptist Bearcats handed them a stunning defeat. They are trying to avoid an 0-2 start for the second time in the last three years against the Wisconsin-Green Bay Phoenix.

Although the name Wisconsin-Green Bay sounds like a Division II team, it is far from it. The Phoenix have been a solid Division I program for 40 years and have made an appearance in the NCAA tournament five times.

This will be the first meeting between the Utes and the Phoenix, but not the first time the Phoenix have met up with a Mountain West Conference team, in which they have gone 3-3.

The two teams are similar on paper8212;both have five starters returning to the squad, have a player on the conference all-team selection and are ranked No. 4 in their conference preseason polls. The main difference is, the Phoenix are ranked in the top 65 in the country in many preseason polls throughout college basketball.

In their two preseason games, the Phoenix scored more than 90 points against their opponents and allowed fewer than 70.

The team went 15-15 last season after battling some key injuries. They have scheduled tough opponents for the season, some of which are Big-Ten teams.

The Utes will have a definite advantage in players on the court. Utah has 10 players coming off of the bench every game, while the Phoenix have 10 players on their entire roster, seven of whom get the bulk of the minutes.

On Saturday, the Runnin’ Utes had a tough time rotating on defense allowing the Bearcats to get 32 cracks at 3-point shots. They ended up hitting 50 percent from behind the arc, sinking 16 3-pointers, which was more than half of the total field goals they made.

Defending the three against the Phoenix will be a big assignment because they aren’t afraid to fire from long range. It isn’t a high-percentage shooting team from behind the arc at 37 percent, but it will pull the trigger. The player to look for from distance is Mike Schachtner, a 6-foot-9 forward who ranked in the top 10 in 3-point percentage in the Horizon League last season.

The Phoenix also have the reigning conference defensive player of the year on their team in Terry Evans. The 6-foot-5 forward averaged six rebounds, two steals and a block last season.

Free throws were a big factor in the loss against the Bearcats on Saturday. The Utes made 27-of-38 free throws, which ultimately cost them the game. Luke Nevill contributed to six of those missed shots from the charity stripe.

The game against the Phoenix will be played tonight at 7 p.m. in the Huntsman Center.

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