Utah Men’s Basketball Can Win At Home, Now Face Another Road Test

Jan 23, 2024, 10:20 AM

SALT LAKE CITY – There is no denying the Runnin’ Utes can win at home- their 11-0 record says so, however, winning on the road has been a different story.

Now, in fairness, Utah isn’t the only program that finds it more difficult to win the away games. Being on the road is notoriously hard.

The Utes are currently 1-3 in road games with their lone win coming in out-of-conference play against St. Mary’s. Utah is also 2-2 in neutral site games but currently sit 0-3 on the road in conference play.

That is a trend head coach Craig Smith, and the Runnin’ Utes are hoping to buck this weekend against teams they’ve already beat on their home turf.

Opponent Familiarity Could Be A Friend Or Foe For Utah

Utah heads up to the state of Washington to take on Washington State on Wednesday and Washington on Saturday.

The Utes, as mentioned above have already notched wins against these teams at the Huntsman Center and this road trip marks the first one against familiar opponents for the 2023-24 season.

As coach Smith said, there are elements of the matchup that could play into Utah’s favor, and elements that could not. It just depends on the evolution of both teams in the arena that particular night.

“Teams play a little different as you go on and it’s already almost been a month since we’ve played these guys,” Smith said. “Some guy’s minutes are up, some guy’s minutes are down. I’m sure when you watch us- in fact I know because I watched our game against Washington State this morning- we look a lot different than we did a month ago. Just how we are playing and who we are playing. We’ve got to be able to adjust accordingly, but at the end of the day I think their DNA is the same so to speak.”

One element that seems to be important in Smith’s mind, however, is making sure his team brings the same level of urgency on the road this week as they do at the Huntsman- particularly with the Oregon game in mind. That’s an area where Smith thinks Utah could improve in road games that would make a big difference.

“We just haven’t been as disciplined as we need- I don’t feel like we’ve had the edge that we need,” Smith said. “I think the last game [Stanford] we were a little bit- with Lawson getting hurt three minutes into the game and we found out that morning after pregame that Rollie wasn’t going to play- although, we were kind of prepared because we knew it could happen. We’ve just got to be better. We have to eliminate losing to win. You don’t have to play perfect, but we do need to be tighter with all of our stuff. We’ve got to rebound, we’ve got to play with more physicality, we’ve got to be on edge more, we’ve got to handle the crowd more, got to take care of the ball more, got to make our free throws.”

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on XInstagram, and Threads: @BodkinKSLsports

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Utah Men’s Basketball Can Win At Home, Now Face Another Road Test