The December Instate Basketball Wars continue tonight when the University of Utah meets Utah State in the Huntsman Center, beginning at 7:35.
USU and Utah have split their home-and-home series four times in the past five years. The Aggies have lost four consecutive games in Salt Lake City. Last year, Utah broke a 37-37 tie with an 11-2 run to win 65-59 in Salt Lake City.The Aggies are 0-2 after meeting BYU twice, losing by four and five points. Wingman Rich Jardine and guards Kendall Youngblood and Jay Goodman have scored 118 of the Aggies' 152 points so far this season. Jardine has 40 points, Youngblood 39 and Goodman 39. The team's next highest scorer is Randy Funk, with 10 points.
"We've got to have more balanced scoring," says USU coach Kohn Smith. "But we've played BYU twice, and they're probably the biggest team in the country. You're not going to get a lot of scoring from your inside people."
The Ags also hope to improve their shooting. They've made just 34 percent of their field goal attempts. Youngblood, a career 50 percent shooter, has made just 7 of 24 shots from the field. Most of his scoring has come at the foul line, where he has made 24 of 26 free throws, including 23 in a row.
Meanwhile, the Utes, 3-1, have struggled at the foul line. They've made just 61 of 93 free throws - 65.6 percent.
The Utes' depth has improved considerably since last year, when they depended heavily on seven or eight players. This year they are playing as many as 11 players in a game, with nine of them playing an average of 14.5 minutes or more per game.
Utah's top performers have been Josh Grant and newcomer Byron Wilson. Grant is averaging 16 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, shooting 54 pecent from the field. Wilson, a 6-foot-3 sophomore guard who sat out last season, is averaging 15.7 points and 7 rebounds per game.
The Utes, who played their first four games in eight days, will play three games in five days this week, beginning with USU.