In what may have been - and was promoted as - a preview of the 1991 NCAA Championships, No. 1 Utah edged No. 2 Georgia by a mere five hundredths of a point - 193.55-193.50.

The Utes, who entered the final event of the night (balance beam) ahead by three one-hundredths of a point, ignored a raucous, school-record dual meet crowd of 5,642 and a high-scoring Georgia floor set. All six Utes nailed their beam routines to secure the victory, led by Missy Marlowe's first-place 9.80 finale."I was particularly thrilled with our balance beam," said happy Ute head coach Greg Marsden. "We didn't even have any wobbles. It's tough to end on beam, knowing you have to hit big in order to win."

Georgia coach Suzanne Yoculan echoed Marsden's feelings. "Utah was incredibly tough mentally. They went up and stuck their beam routines and managed to block out the crowd noise over our floor (routines). But hey, I'm pleased we stayed with them the whole meet."

Actually, the Lady Bulldogs led through the first two events, with all- around victor Heather Stepp (39.25) winning the vault with a 9.85 and tying teammate Hope Spivey and Marlowe for first on bars (9.80). Down 96.80-96.60 at the midway point, Utah began its comeback on floor, counting a low score of 9.60 and getting a pair of 9.75s from Kristen Kenoyer and Shelly Schaerrer. Utah's big three - Marlowe, Kenoyer and Schaerrer - went two-three-four all-around, scoring 39.10, 38.80 and 38.70, respectively.

Utah handed Georgia its first loss of the year in improving to 3-0, Georgia dropping to 3-1.

"I couldn't be more pleased," said Marsden. "We made some small execution errors throughout the meet, but for our first road meet, we were just awesome. We hit all but two routines."

The Lady Utes return home for their next competition, meeting Utah State on Feb. 2.