The last time BYU and Utah met on the basketball court, Josh Grant stole the show and the Utes won the game. When the teams meet in today's 3 p.m. game (live on KUTV-Channel 2), one thing is certain: The Cougars will be watching Grant closer this time.
The Utes won 90-86 on Feb. 2 in Salt Lake City with Grant leading the way with 24 points. The freshman won't be a surprise to anyone the second time around."We've got to me more aware. We did not really give him (Grant) the respect we needed to last time," said BYU guard Marty Haws.
Grant scored eight points in Utah's win over Air Force Thursday night.
Respect - their own - is an area the Cougars have struggled with this year. They went on a hot streak last week, winning three straight games but ended up losing to Wyoming Thursday night in Laramie, 72-65. Meanwhile, Utah came away with a close 72-71 win over Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Utah is 15-13 overall and 6-7 in the WAC (fifth place) while BYU is 12-13 and 5-8 and tied for seventh.
Ute Coach Lynn Archibald was claiming respect for BYU's trio of experienced players early this week. "Smith, Toolson and Haws give them an excellent 1-2-3 punch. Smith is playing very well right now and is the difference in their success . . . BYU is playing as well as anyone in the league right now," he said.
Of course, that was before Thursday night's loss. After a week of exhiliration the Cougars are back to the humdrum life of "win some-lose some." Michael Smith and Andy Toolson are fighting the flu and freshman backup John Fish is questionable due to a sprained ankle.
BYU enters the game as the nation's top free-throw shooting team (82 percent). Utah shoots only 68 percent from the stripe and is slightly below BYU's 49 percent field goal output.
The Cougars close out the season with three home games (Utah, Wyoming, Colorado State) while the Utes play at Provo before hosting Colorado State and Wyoming. Utah also hosts the WAC tourney March 8-11.
BYU leads the series 100-98.