Utah Utes basketball invades 'the Pit'

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 6 2015 6:34 p.m. MDT

ALBUQUERQUE — Utah center David Foster, all 7-foot-3 of him, is hopeful Wednesday's 80-70 win over Wyoming is the start of something special for the Utah men's basketball team.

"We have to make sure that we continue to use this as a confidence-booster and go down and compete in one of the toughest places to play in the country," Foster said.

A tall order?

Perhaps. The Utes (11-15, 4-8) visit New Mexico (17-9, 5-6) tonight in "The Pit," a place where they haven't prevailed since 2002. It's a venue Foster ranks right up there with the Spectrum at Utah State and BYU's Marriott Center in terms of difficulty.

Foster speaks from experience. Five others Utes in the playing rotation, though, will be visiting University Arena for the first time.

Utah coach Jim Boylen hopes last week's games before packed houses at San Diego State and BYU will serve as proper preparation for the trip ahead.

Although the Utes handled the Lobos 82-72 on Jan. 19 in the Huntsman Center, Boylen acknowledged things will be more difficult his time around.

"They play with a lot of energy in The Pit," he said of the Lobos. "It's a very intimidating place ... so we'll have to adjust to that."

Utah may also have to adjust to playing without scoring and rebounding leader Will Clyburn. The junior has a contusion on his right heel. Boylen said X-rays were negative, but an MRI revealed severe bruising. Clyburn's status is considered day-to-day — same goes for Foster (knee, ankle) and guard Chris Kupets (hamstring).

Injuries aside, Boylen is pleased with how the Utes performed in the win over Wyoming.

"I thought we did a good job of taking care of the ball," Boylen said. "I thought we had great shots on goal."

Boylen noted Shawn Glover's seven second-half points were huge and timely. He also praised Josh Watkins for making big plays at the rim and for hitting his free throws.

The duo will be counted on heavily to contribute even more, especially so with the injuries, at New Mexico.

The Lobos have altered their approach since last month's game in Salt Lake City. They use 6-foot-9 forward Drew Gordon inside and the other four players, including all-conference standout Dairese Gary, on the perimeter.

"It'll be great," Boylen said of the challenges Utah faces. "We're looking forward to it."

Utes on the air

Utah (11-15, 4-8) at New Mexico (17-9, 5-6)

Tonight, 7:30 p.m.

The Pit, Albuquerque

TV: The mtn.

Radio: 700 AM

Utah women play today, too

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah women's basketball team will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak against New Mexico on Saturday at 5 p.m. on CBS College Sports.

The first 300 fans will receive a free Utah bandana. Utah will have a special tribute to former radio broadcaster Chris Tunis at halftime.

e-mail: dirk@desnews.com

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