Utes shouldn’t take Jackrabbits lightly

By By Quinn Wilcox, Staff Writer

By Quinn Wilcox, Staff Writer

South Dakota State. Based on name recognition alone, you would think the Utes would just be able to roll into Thursday’s game without much worry.

Don’t let the name fool you.

South Dakota State is 2-0 in the season, and those two wins weren’t against cupcake teams. The wins came against Missouri and Wisconsin. And that Wisconsin win was by 20 points. Take into consideration that this will be Utah’s first road test of the season, and this has the makings of a very tough game.

“They’re very good. We’ve known that all along,” said head coach Elaine Elliot. “Just no one else in the public knows that just because of where they’re located.”

South Dakota State is led by Jennifer Warkenthien. She is the lead scorer for the Jackrabbits, at 10 points per game. She also is a very strong rebounder, so far pulling down 7.5 boards per game.

Maria Boever is the other high scorer for the team, getting an average of 8.5 points per game along with leading the team in rebounding, at eight a game. Macie Michelson leads the team in minutes, at 30 a game, as well as assists (3.0).

What you might have noticed with these stats is that there really isn’t any particular player lighting it up on the scoreboard. Jennifer Warkenthien is the only one who averages double digits, and the team as a whole averages 59.5 points per game. The way these women knocked off two teams from top conferences is with defense.

South Dakota State is only giving up 47 points per game, and is holding teams to a 36 percent shooting average. The Jackrabbits’ stifling defense, along with their methodical tempo, is what makes this team tough.

Utah, however, will be the best team South Dakota State has faced this season. Morgan Warburton is coming off a very good first game of the season, notching 18 points along with seven rebounds and five assists. Warburton wasn’t the only one scoring in the Utes’ last game, though, as three other players hit double digits. The game will most likely be decided by the Utes’ ability to control tempo, as well as taking care of the ball.

If Utah can get out in the open court and get South Dakota State into a racing match, it will have a hard time keeping up. The Utes also cannot be careless with the ball like they were in the first half of the Jackson State game. It will be critical that the Utes take advantage of every possession they get, since it is difficult to score off the Jackrabbits’ defense. If they play like they did in the second half of the Jackson State game, the Utes should be in good shape.

Many fans are already looking forward to the home game Tuesday against No. 9 Louisville. The Utes, however, aren’t looking past anyone. This game has the potential to be one of the harder games of the year.

“It’s a really big road challenge,” Elliot said. “It will be as tough as any road game we’ll play all year.”

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Morgan Warburton and the Ute take on South Dakota Jackrabbits this week. The mascot might sound silly but the South Dakota team is starting this season off with two big wins under their belt and will be a formidable team for Utah.