Utah to face Ole Miss

By By Marco Villano, Staff Writer

By Marco Villano, Staff Writer

The Runnin’ Utes are hitting the road today for the first time this season with a two-game stint in the Glenn Wilkes Classic.

Utah picked up a much-needed win Tuesday against Wisconsin-Green Bay to avoid starting the season 0-2 for the second time in three years. Luke Nevill carried the load by recording his 20th career double-double with 20 points and 14 rebounds. The Utes managed to figure out their free throws, which were troublesome in their first game, and went 25-of-29 from the line.

The Utes are coming off a game in which they outrebounded their opponent by double figures. They also showed their depth, which allowed them to pull away from the Phoenix in the second half.

The two road games will be played in the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Fla. The Utes’ first game will be a first-time meeting against Ole Miss, which is celebrating its 100th season of basketball. The Rebels won their first two games of the season in good fashion with a 13-plus point victory in both contests. They average 77 points per game with a shooting percentage of .391.

Last season, the Rebels set 25 records and won 24 games, the second most in school history. Coming into the postseason, they had high hopes of going to the NCAA Tournament and looked like a team that could so. They made it to the final four of the National Invitation Tournament last season for the first time in school history.

“Our goals are very, very high,” Rebels head coach Andy Kennedy said. “We want to get back to postseason play for the third consecutive year, but we want to get into the NCAA Tournament where we can compete for a championship.”

What might hold them back from a possible repeat or berth to March Madness are two big injuries. Just a little more than a week after losing sophomore guard Trevor Gaskins to a knee injury, the Rebels lost fellow guard Eniel Polynice to a season-ending knee injury. Both were productive assets to the team and the Utes could take advantage of their absence.

The leading scorer for the Rebels early in the season is David Huertas, a 6-foot-5-inch guard who is averaging 25 points per game.

In their second game in Daytona, the Utes will face Morgan State (1-2), a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. The Bears are also looking for their first bid into the NCAA Tournament and are returning from a berth in the NIT last season. They earned a spot in the NIT last year for winning their conference championship. Despite losing three starters from last season, they believe that they can make history with the squad they have now.

“This year we want to continue to build and take more positive steps for our program,” Bears head coach Todd Bozeman said.

The Bears’ best returning starter is senior Marquise Kately, who averaged 13 points on 50 percent shooting and is just shy of six rebounds per game.

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Chris Kamrani

Carlon Brown helped spark the Utes to avoid starting the season 0-2 for the second time in three years. Now the team travels to Daytona Beach Fla., to play Ole Miss and Morgan State.