Runnin’ Utes gear up for tough opponent

By Marco Villano, Staff Writer recently did a story on how difficult it is for most good teams to schedule games with one another, especially teams that are members of a mid-major conference like the Mountain West Conference.

Jim Boylen brought a resume to Utah that would allow them to schedule games against good, if not great opponents. National powers such as Gonzaga, Cal and Oregon made the trip to the Huntsman Center, and now Louisiana State will roll in Tuesday night, to begin it’s first of a series that will span over the next few years.

“They’re a big time program, talent and I have a lot of respect for their coach, he’s a friend,” Boylen said. “We’re hoping for a big crowd and a great game.”

The Utes wrap up their non-conference schedule against a Louisiana State team that hasn’t played a true road game this season. Their only game out of Baton Rouge was on a neutral floor which they lost to Texas A&M.

At 7 p.m. the Tigers bring a 12-1 record into the Huntsman Center to face a Utes team that has won four of their last five games, including a recent 91-67 assault against a Wyoming team that looked like they’d rather be watching the NFL playoffs then playing basketball.

“We’ve been focused the past three games,” said Utes guard Carlon Brown. “Football got us motivated to play even better, so we’re going to try to keep this train moving.”

Utes center Luke Nevill set a career high in blocks with five and matched his career high in points with 29 against the Cowboys. He was named the MWC player of the week for the second consecutive week and his third this season.

Guard Carlon Brown was just shy of becoming the third player in Utes history to record a triple-double. Brown filled up the stat sheet with 15 points, 9 rebounds and a career-high 9 assists.

“I saw a stretch where he was just going at it for like two or three minutes,” Nevill said. “It was just all him, one vs. five and he got the job done.”

Wyoming’s leading scorer, Brandon Ewing, almost matched that of Nevill with 26 points. He single handedly tried to get the Cowboys back in the game, which was a tall order against a team that shot 72 percent from the field in the second half.

Boylen’s defensive-minded game plan has paid dividends for the Utes as of late. For the third game in a row, the Utes forced their opponent to shoot 35 percent from the field and score under 70 points. They also won the rebounding game, which they have been doing all season long, 39-25.

On paper, the Tigers defense looks like they will match up with the Utes better than any team this year. They are holding opponents to a 37 percent field goal percentage and outscoring them 77 to 59 on average. On the boards they are pulling down 10 more rebounds per game at 40-30.

“The’ve got 38 more blocks than their opponents and 30 more steals than their opponents,” Boylen said of LSU. “Their length is a big issue, their athleticism is a big issue on the defensive end of the floor, so it’s going to be a challenge on the offensive end.”

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