The University of Utah is 8-1 and off to its best start in 10 years, but Ute coach Rick Majerus is hardly gloating.
"We're really not that good of a team," he says, earnestly. "We play hard. We play together. But I know what a good team is. We've got a long way to go. We're still a couple of years away."The Utes no doubt have benefitted from a schedule that has included three non-Division I opponents (Majerus says he is upgrading the schedule for next season). Nevertheless, the Utes, since losing to Michigan on Dec. 1, have won five consecutive games, beating Utah State, Oregon, Cal-Irvine, Pacific and Weber State. Not bad for a team picked to finish only sixth in the Western Athletic Conference.
"We've made dramatic improvement since the Michigan game," says Majerus. "But I really don't know where we are yet."
Tonight the Utes will try to stretch their winning streak to six when they meet Morehead State in the Huntsman Center (tipoff: 7:35).
Morehead State - based in Kentucky - is 5-2, having lost to Southern Utah State Saturday 95-71. The Eagles' lineup consists of 6-5 forward Brian Miller, 6-8 forward Vic Gainer, 6-10 center Rod Mitchell, 6-7 guard P.J. Nichols and 5-11 guard Patrick Tubbs. Two players handle most of Morehead's scoring duties. Nichols averages 16.9 points and 5.3 points per game, Mitchell 16.5 points and 10.2 rebounds.
"They're a good team," says Majerus. "You'll be surprised. They almost beat Dayton. They have real good athletes, and they play 10 players every game, like we do."
The Eagles, who lost both of their previous games against Utah (the last time in 1988), lost by two points to Dayton. They have beaten West Liberty, Myland-Eastern Shore (twice), Northeastern (Ill.) and Brescia.