No. 25 Utes face tough task against No. 16 Aztecs Tuesday afternoon

first_imgThey’re ranked in the top 20 for a reason. They’ve got an incredible athletic team. They’ve got one of the best basketball environments in college basketball in the country. – Utah coach Larry KrystkowiakSALT LAKE CITY — After tipping off the season with a 90-72 home win over Ball State over the weekend, things get tough in a hurry for the Utah basketball team, which faces No. 16 San Diego State Tuesday afternoon at 2 p.m. MST in San DiegoThe game at Viejas Arena is part of ESPN’s Tip-off Marathon, which features continuous games on the TV channel over a 24-hour period, ending Tuesday night.The No. 25-ranked Utes did a lot of good things in Friday’s opener, which saw 12 players seeing action, 11 in the first half alone and eight players scoring. Junior Brandon Taylor led the way with 19 points, while junior Jordan Loveridge and freshman big man Jakob Poeltl each scored 18 and senior Delon Wright had 13 points and eight assists.However, the Utes couldn’t put the Cardinals away until the final five minutes, and they’ll face a much tougher task against the Aztecs.“They’re a really good team,’’ said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “They’re ranked in the top 20 for a reason. They’ve got an incredible athletic team. They’ve got one of the best basketball environments in college basketball in the country.”Specifically, Krystkowiak said the Utes will need to improve their ball-handling (14 turnovers against Ball State Friday) and rebounding (nine offensive boards for Ball State).“They’re without a doubt the best rebounding team I will have seen in college basketball,’’ Krystkowiak said of SDSU. “They send a lot of guys and get a lot of easy second shots. Their defense is really solid. They have a number of different three-quarter court, full court, half-court trapping looks that make it hard.“The focus for us is going to be taking care of the basketball in a hostile environment, and we really have to limit the number of second shots that they get and then we’ll have a chance.’’Wright echoed his coach, saying, “We have to rebound, make free throws and just take care of the ball. I know their crowd will be crazy, and it will be a tough game.San Diego State opened with a 79-59 win over Cal State Northridge Friday night. Former Ute player J.J. O’Brien has been a three-year starter for SDSU and had 13 points and seven rebounds in the opener. Other starters for the Aztecs include junior forward Winston Shepard, senior forward Dwayne Polee, junior center Skylar Spencer and freshman guard Trey Kell. Ageel Quinn, a 6-foot-3 senior guard, came off the bench to lead the Aztecs in scoring Friday with 15 points.After Tuesday’s game, the Utes will return home to play UC Riverside Friday night at the Huntsman Center.GAME NOTES: The Utes are 53-18 all-time against the Aztecs. The last game between the two schools was a 64-50 loss in the MWC tournament in 2011. The last game in San Diego was an 85-53 Ute loss, also in 2011. … The Aztecs have won five straight against the Utes and the last five in San Diego dating back to 2006. … Delon Wright has been named to the John Wooden Award watch list after previously being named to the Cousy Award watch list. Utes hold steady at No. 25 in AP men’s basketball poll Utes determined to send seniors off the right waycenter_img Relatedlast_img

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