After two impressive performances on their home court, the University of Utah will finish a busy week with a road game against Cal-Irvine tonight.
The game will televised live by KUTV (Ch. 2), beginning at 8:30 MST.The Utes, playing their seventh game in 15 days, sport a 5-1 record after beating Utah State and Oregon handily earlier in the week. Their lone loss was to Michigan last Saturday in Ann Arbor.
Irvine will be a formidable opponent. The Anteaters, 3-2, have beaten Texas Tech, Idaho State and Bradley, and none of those games was closer than nine points. Irvine won the Disneyland Freedom Bowl Classic championship by beating Idaho State and Bradley. The 'Eaters' two losses were to UCLA and Siena.
Four of Irvine's starters average double scoring figures - 6-7 center Ricky Butler (18.6 points, 8.4 rebounds), 6-7 forward Jeff Herdman (15.0, 8.0), 6-0 guard Gerald McDonald (11.8, 5.8), 6-3 guard Dylan Rigdon (10.4). The fifth starter - 6-9 forward Jeff Von Lutzow - averages 9.6 points.
The Anteaters average 99 points per game, but shoot just 42 percent from the field.
The Utes, meanwhile, are shooting 51 percent from the field, 44 percent from three-point range. Nine players are scoring an average of 5 points or better per game. The Utes also are outrebounding their opponents by an average of 38-31.5.
Josh Grant continues to lead the team in scoring (17.3 ppg.) and rebounding (7.8).
Several Ute players began to assert themselves this week. Center Walter Watts had 18 points and 8 rebounds against Oregon. His backup, Paul Afeaki, totaled 19 points and 15 rebounds against Utah State and Oregon, despite playing just 27 minutes. In those same two games, reserve guard Phil Dixon, who's still nursing a year-old leg injury, made 9 of 11 field goal attempts, including 7 of 8 from three-point range. And he played a total of just 31 minutes.
"I would like to play him more, but I want to be cautious with his ankle," said Utah coach Rick Majerus.
M'Kay McGrath also has had a good week. In two games he has made 8 of 10 field goal attempts and grabbed 13 rebounds.
"I'm in love with the kid," says Majerus. "Win or lose I go home every night happy that I'm his coach."
After tonight's game, the Utes will take a week-long break for final exams.