Despite a head-scratching loss to Sam Houston State and a close defeat against Mississippi State, the University of Utah men’s basketball team has put together an impressive season.
Heading into Tuesday’s matchup against UTSA in Salt Lake City, the Utes have won four straight, boast an 8-2 record and a 2-0 mark in Pac-12 play. That’s helped them garner a dozen votes for Top 25 recognition in the most recent AP poll.
“I don’t think we worry about it too much,” Utah’s Branden Carlson said regarding publicity about the team’s strong start. “It is nice to get a little props here and there, but we are just focused on ourselves right now and just controlling what we can control, and just getting better.”
In their most recent outing, the Utes cruised to a 99-58 home win over Jacksonville State after hitting 16 3-pointers and bursting out to a 19-0 start.
“We have high level decision-makers,” Utah coach Craig Smith said. “We have a lot of guys who can shoot it, pass it, dribble it.”
That game marked the first time this season in which three players scored at least 15 points. Lazar Stefanovic led the way with 20, Carlson scored 19 and Gabe Madsen had 16.
“We are a team full of shooters,” said Stefanovic, who drained six 3-pointers. “And when we move the ball the way we know (how), everybody is open, we get rhythm shots, and they all fall down. We just gotta trust it.”
This will be the second meeting between the Utes and Roadrunners, with Utah winning the first matchup in 2009.
UTSA (5-4) features three players who have hit the 20-point mark, including freshman DJ Richards, who earned Conference USA Freshman of the Week honors after scoring 20 in a loss to the red-hot New Mexico Lobos.
The Roadrunners are looking to bounce back after starting 4-1.
Senior Jacob Germany leads UTSA in scoring (12.3 points per game) and rebounding (7.9 rebounds per game), while Japhet Medor (10.6 ppg) and John Buggs III (10.1 ppg) also average double-figure scoring. Richards chips in an average of nine points per game.
–Field Level Media