Off to its best start in a decade, the University of Utah will meet Weber State Monday night in the Huntsman Center in another in-state basketball game, beginning at 7:35.
The Utes, who are riding a four-game winning streak, are 7-1 - their best start since the Danny Vranes-Tom Chambers team of 1980-81. In their only in-state game of the year so far, the Utes defeated Utah State.The Wildcats, who are riding a three-game losing streak, are 2-3. In in-state play, they have beaten Southern Utah State, but lost to BYU and Utah State. They have beaten Utah only once in the nine times they have played.
"We have three tough games this week," says Utah coach Rick Majerus, who has won 11 of the 14 games he has coached since coming to Utah last year. After meeting Weber, the Utes also face Morehead State and Wichita State this week.
In their latest outing, Weber was beaten 77-62 by Utah State - a team Utah handled 84-76. Weber's lineup consists of 6-5 forward Aaron Bell, 6-8 forward David Baldwin, 6-8 center Anthony McGowan, 6-2 guard Jason Joe and 6-4 guard Tony Nicholas. McGowan, however, might not be able to play because of an injury.
Weber has five players who average double scoring figures, including reserve forward Al Hamilton. Bell leads the team in scoring with a 13.8 average. Baldwin averages 9.2 rebounds per game (and 10.2 points).
The Utes continue to be led by versatile Josh Grant, the junior from Salt Lake City. He averages 17.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 25 minutes per game, and is shooting 86.7 percent from the foul line - all team highs. He also ranks second on the team in assists, steals and blocks. What's more, he is shooting 54.9 percent from the field, 55.2 percent (16 of 29) from three-point range.
Guard Byron Wilson and center Walter Watts are averaging 10.9 and 10.6 points per game, respectively. Reserve center Paul Afeaki is averaging 8.6 points and 4.4 rebounds - and only 14 minutes per game.