SALT LAKE CITY — One of the Utah basketball team's goals at the start of the season was not to lose any home games.
That went by the wayside Saturday night when Oral Roberts came to town and beat the Utes 78-70 at the Huntsman Center.
Now the 3-2 Utes don't want to lose any more home games and they'll try to protect the home court when Steve Cleveland's Fresno State team plays the Utes in a 7 p.m. game tonight.
The Bulldogs come in with a 1-3 record, including an 83-56 loss to BYU in Provo earlier in the month. They are led by 6-foot-10 center Greg Smith, who averages 8.8 points and 7.4 assists per game. The well-balanced Bulldogs have no players scoring in double figures and average just 59.8 points per game.
"Fresno State brings size and athleticism with speed and quickness," said Utah coach Jim Boylen. "We play teams that are speedy and quick and some that are big and strong. This team has a combination of both. They will come in and play with physicality. We're going to have to match their physicality and play at our pace."
Utah is led by JC transfer Will Clyburn, who had a double-double against Oral Roberts and leads the Utes in both scoring (19.8 ppg) and rebounding (7.4). Another JC transfer, point guard Josh Watkins, averages 16.0 points and 3.8 assists per game.
The Utes are also expected to start Jay Watkins (8.0 ppg) and Shawn Glover (7.6 ppg) at forwards and Jason Wasburn (8.4 ppg) at center.
Boylen says he expects wins, but knows he has to be patient with his young, inexperienced team.
"I like this team, they've worked and they're trying," he said. "We have to shake off our newness and our inexperience and play better in the system. I'm confident we will do that and get better."11 comments on this story
UTE NOTES: At 78.7 percent, the Utes rank seventh in the nation in free throw shooting. They also rank eighth in free throw attempts per game … Utah averages 16 turnovers per game, led by Josh Watkins' 4.4 per game. Boylen wants those numbers to be closer to 12 and 2 or 3 per game … After tonight's game, the Utes hit the road to play Bradley Saturday night in a Mountain West Conference-Missouri Valley Conference Challenge game.
Utes on the air
Utah (3-2) vs. Fresno State (1-3)
Today, 7 p.m.
TV: none Radio: 700 AM