Imagine the possibilities: the two towers, the dynamic duo or just the pure inside domination that Utah basketball could have had this season. With the return of Weber State's Lance Allred to the Huntsman Center tonight, it is thought-provoking to think of what could have been.
Utah's Andrew Bogut is off to a fantastic sophomore season. He is on the John R. Wooden Preseason All-America team and is a preseason candidate for the Naismith Award, given annually to the top college player. With averages of 19.0 points and 10.5 rebounds a contest, he is the force that drives the team. Imagine him with a counterpart in the paint.
"It would be a pretty nice combination, no doubt about it," said Utah coach Ray Giacoletti.
Allred played for the Utes his freshman year before becoming disenchanted with the program and the coach at the time, Rick Majerus. A product of East High School, Allred decided to stay close to home and transferred to Weber State.
After sitting out the required season as a redshirt, Allred played his sophomore season for the Wildcats, averaging 11.7 points and 6.0 rebounds. This year, the 6-foot-11 center is leading the team in scoring and rebounding with 17.8 and 11.3, respectively. He is second in blocked shots, and is tied for third on the team in assists. In his last outing against BYU, he posted 27 points and 18 rebounds in a losing effort. He was named Big Sky player of the week.
"Lance Allred has had a great year so far," said Giacoletti. "He posts a double-double almost every night."
The Utes will need to slow Allred to slow the Wildcats.
"We need to keep him off the boards and not foul him," Bogut said. "He gets most of his points at the line. He doesn't score as much one-on-one with his moves; it is getting rebounds and going back up."
Weber State is 4-6 this season and 1-4 on the road. After Allred, the Wildcats get 10.1 points and 2.3 assists per game from junior Terrell Stovall, and junior Troy Goodell averages 5.9 rebounds and 7.3 points.
Utah is 5-0 in the Huntsman Center, and tonight's game is the first of a five-game homestand.
"We can have a good year if we can get five straight," Bogut said. "It would be a great boost going into conference."
NOTES: Before becoming a head coach, Joe Cravens was an assistant coach at Utah for three years. During the 1989-90 season, Cravens filled in as acting head coach when Rick Majerus had heart surgery. The team went 12-12 that year. Cravens left Utah after the 1991-92 season to become the head coach at Idaho, where he went 43-40 in four years.
Utah and Weber State meet for the 33rd time tonight. Utah leads the all-time series 20-12 and has won eight of the last 10 meetings, including three in a row. The teams have met every year since 1993.
After Weber State took two in a row in 1999-2000 and 2000-01, the Utes have captured the last three meetings. Utah won last season, 70-60, on Jan. 3 in Ogden.
Utah has a 13-3 edge in games played in Salt Lake City. The Utes won their last game in the Huntsman Center against Weber State, 72-58 on Jan. 3, 2003. Weber State took the previous game in Salt Lake City, 79-77 on Dec. 9, 2000, to break a nine-game home winning streak in the series by the Utes.
Giacoletti is 5-6 all-time against Weber State, including a 3-2 mark in home games. The last time Giacoletti faced Weber State, his Eastern Washington team won 72-53 on March 9, 2004, in the Big Sky tournament semifinals in Cheney, Wash.Utah is 113-47 (.706) all-time against the Big Sky Conference. That mark includes a 73-14 (.839) record in home games.
Utes vs. Wildcats
Weber State (4-6) vs. Utah (8-3)
7 p.m. at Huntsman Center
Radio: KALL 700 AM,KLO 1430AM