What Utah Basketball Needs To Do To Pull Off Upset Over No. 18 BYU
SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah men’s basketball program will look to hand No. 18 BYU their first loss of the season in a rivalry showdown at the Huntsman Center.
Both teams enter the contest with a 5-0 record, with Utah picking up wins over Abilene Christian, Sacramento State, Bethune-Cookman, Boston College and Tulsa. BYU has knocked off Cleveland State, San Diego State, Oregon, Central Methodist and Texas Southern.
Here are four things that Utah will need to do in order to pull off the upset at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.
1. Keep BYU Off The Three-Point Line
The Cougars are a tough team to beat when they are making their three-pointers. As a team, BYU is 37-of-115 from downtown with nine players making at least one triple through five games.
Utah has been strong defensively, allowing their opponents to shoot 23-for-90 from the perimeter for just 25%. On the flip side, Utah is 38-of-117 from deep for 32%.
David Jenkins Jr. will need to keep the momentum going on his shot. He is shooting 16-of-35 for 45% from beyond the arc this season. The Cougars are currently shooting 32% from the three-point line.
2. Win The Rebound Battle
The Utes have outrebounded their opponents in four of the five games. That was single-handedly the biggest issue with the team last season under Larry Krystkowiak. Utah will need to win the rebound battle as BYU averages 41.4 boards per game. Caleb Lohner, Fousseyni Traore and Gideon George are all averaging six rebounds or more per game.
Utah is pulling down 46.6 rebounds per game as a team, with Branden Carlson, Marco Anthony and Riley Battin leading the way. Rebounding will play a big factor in this matchup so everyone will need to put an emphasis on the glass.
3. Limit Alex Barcello
Alex Barcello is far and away BYU’s best player. He is arguably the best college player in the state of Utah. Barcello is averaging 18.8 points, 3.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game. His shooting percentages are very impressive, making 60% of his field goals, 52% of his threes and 91% of his free throws.
Utah has a couple of players that are capable of limiting Barcello in Rollie Worster and Marco Anthony. My guess is that Anthony will take the assignment of guarding Barcello. Craig Smith has said that Anthony defends the opposing teams best perimeter player. His size, length and athleticism makes him a quality defender.
It will be hard to shut down Barcello completely, but Utah needs to make thigs difficult for him.
4. Huntsman Center Needs To Be Packed And Loud
The program has been in a downward spiral in the last couple of years, basically since Utah’s last NCAA Tournament appearance. The attendance has been heavily impacted by that to the point that the upper bowl is closed and has a curtain covering it. With the hiring of Craig Smith, Utah fans have a renewed energy and passion towards the Runnin’ Utes program.
It’s true that fans make a huge impact on big games. This is certainly a big game and this young basketball team will need the MUSS and Utah fans to show out and make it a rockin’ environment.
Tip-off between Utah and BYU will be at 7:30 p.m. MT on Pac-12 Mountain.
Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com, Co-Host of Faith, Family and Football podcast with Clark Phillips III and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASports.
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