After a week's rest, the University of Utah Runnin' Utes will return to the basketball court in a big way tonight, playing the first of four games during the next eight days.
Utah will meet Pacific University, an unbeaten (6-0) NAIA team from Forest Grove, Ore., tonight at 7:35.The Utes, who haven't played a game since last Saturday, have spent the week preparing for and taking final exams. After taking off Monday and Tuesday, they resumed practice with a light workout on Wednesday.
"We are playing exactly who we need to play at the end of this week when the players are taking finals," said Utah Coach Rick Majerus. "We didn't practice much so the players could concentrate on their tests."
The Utes, 6-1 and off to their best start in 10 years, are on a roll, having beaten Utah State, Oregon and Cal-Irvine in their last three outings. Utah's superior depth was a factor in each game. Nine Ute players are playing an average of 17 minutes or more per game, and eight of them are scoring six or more points per game.
Reserve guard Phil Dixon has made 10 of his last 14 three-point attempts and has scored in double figures in the last three games despite never playing more than 17 minutes. Another reserve, Paul Afeaki, has totaled 30 points and 20 rebounds in limited action during that same time.
Josh Grant continues to lead the team in scoring (16.7 per game) and rebounding (6.7). Byron Wilson (12.7) and Walter Watts (11.6) also are scoring in double figures. Watts has made 17 of his last 19 shots.
The Utes, after shooting between 55 and 60 percent in their last three games, are shooting 51.8 percent from the field (45 percent from three-point range).
Pacific University - nickname: Boxers - averages 89.7 points per game. Its lineup consists of 6-6 Steve Hayes (9.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game), 6-7 Jason Mandic (13.3, 7.7), 6-6 John Murphy (11.8, 9.8), 6-2 John Bass (7.7), 5-10 Bruce Robertson (10.8).