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Utah Sports Ruckus: Anson Winder's patience has paid off for BYU; is Jimmer Fredette a cursed Miley Cyrus fan?

By Nate Gagon

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Feb. 24 2014 11:13 a.m. MST

Prior to the Pacific game, Winder had played just three minutes versus San Francisco, and that seemed odd considering he had played 25 minutes the game before that.

All in all, as you can see, this season has been quite the winding road for the aptly-named junior shooting guard. It seems Winder deserves a ton of credit for staying mentally prepared and positive enough, through it all, to be ready to help his team out when it needed him most.

Winder had many reasons and opportunities to hang his head or throw in the towel this season but he didn’t. It’s a nice lesson and example in perseverance and character.

In hindsight: A look back at the week that was

Is Utah’s men’s basketball team an NCAA Tournament-quality group? It sure looked like it last week in taking the Arizona Wildcats, projected to be a No. 1 seed in the tournament, to overtime, and devastating the Arizona State Sun Devils (most recently projected as a No. 9 seed) on Sunday in a game they led 35-11 after 13 minutes.

The Utes’ biggest problem is their total and utter lack of quality road wins. Their only road win, not just in conference but for the entire season, came against bottom-feeder, USC (10-17, 1-13).

The Utes came painfully close to picking up road wins at Boise State, Washington, Washington State, Arizona State and Colorado. They were even pretty close at Arizona late in January. They just haven’t been quite able to get it done.

After their blowout of Arizona State on Sunday, I believe the Utes are an NCAA Tournament-quality team that will probably not get in because of their horrendous, embarrassing non-conference schedule. If they can finish the season by beating Colorado at home and then California and Stanford on the road, and follow that up with at least one win in the Pac-12 Tournament, I think they will get in.

It could happen.

The BYU men had an outstanding stretch last week with one exception that was out of its control: Gonzaga’s loss at San Diego Saturday night. That loss, strangely, is probably bigger for BYU than it is for Gonzaga. How hard can it be to beat Gonzaga on your home court, after all, if the Toreros can do it too?

Yeah, those Toreros, the seventh-place WCC team that BYU slammed by 34 points last month.

Regardless, it was still a big week for Matt Carlino (30 points on Saturday), Winder and the Cougars.

With Gonzaga losing to the Toreros, I still think the Cougs need to win at San Diego Saturday to finish the season and then make it to the championship game of the WCC Tournament to feel good about their NCAA Tournament chances.

Elsewhere in men’s college basketball, the Big Sky-leading Weber State Wildcats had a tough week, dropping two of three games. They still lead the conference by two games with four to play, though.

Utah Valley is now tied with New Mexico State atop the Western Athletic Conference standings after Saturday's bad blowout loss to 8-18 UMKC. The Wolverines host New Mexico State on Thursday in their biggest game of the season.

The Utah State Aggies got stomped at San Diego State to start the week and then lost at home to Fresno State to finish it. It’s probably time for the Aggies to start looking to next season, barring a miracle run in the Mountain West Conference Tournament.

The BYU women’s team has now won seven straight games after roughing up Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount, two of the least impressive WCC teams, on the road last week. The Cougs were projected to be a No. 12 seed in the NCAA Tournament prior to those two road wins.

The Cougs host San Diego (22-6, 11-6) on Saturday in a huge game to finish the season.

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