TULSA The last time the Utah basketball team played a game here, the Utes escaped with a 56-54 victory on a 19-foot jumper by Andre Miller with less than a second left in February of 1997.
Eleven years later the Utes would be happy with a similar result, which would advance them into the third round of the College Basketball Invitational.
Utah and Tulsa face off tonight at 7 MDT at the Reynolds Center with the winner advancing to play Wednesday night against a yet-to-be-determined opponent.
In Tulsa, the Utes will be facing a team similar to the UTEP team they beat 81-69 last week in the first round of the CBI.
Like UTEP, Tulsa is a member of Conference USA. Like UTEP, Tulsa is a former member of the Western Athletic Conference, albeit for just three years. Like UTEP , before losing to Utah, Tulsa has just two home losses this year (14-2). Like UTEP, Tulsa's best player is a good-shooting guard, who the Utes must contain to have a chance of winning.
"They're a team that has jelled and come together and is playing great basketball," said Utah coach Jim Boylen. "You want to be playing your best basketball at this time of the year, and I think they're doing that. They've won 10 of their last 13 and lost in the finals of their conference tournament to Memphis. They got good inside players, good guard play and they're well-coached. It will be a big challenge for us playing on their home floor."
Tulsa is led by 6-foot-3 sophomore guard Ben Uzoh, who averaged 15.3 points per game. The second-leading scorer is Jerome Jordan, a 7-foot freshman center who will give Luke Nevill someone his own size to go against for a change.
Nevill said he's been happy with his role of not starting the past six games, and his numbers show it. He's averaging 20 points per game on 55 percent shooting from the field and has only had as many as four fouls once.
"I seem to have more energy at the end of the game when we need it and I'm staying out of foul trouble a lot better, so it's worked out so far pretty well," Nevill said.
Tulsa is coached by Doug Wojcik, who was an assistant at Michigan State right before Boylen was.
"He runs similar stuff and is similar defensively," Boylen said. "We share the (Tom) Izzo mentality and background. To say our program mirrors Michigan State, I don't think is fair and to say his does, isn't fair. I think we're both proud to have been part of the Michigan State program. They're really solid in everything they do."
Other games in the CBI tonight include Valparaiso at Houston, Ohio at Bradley and Old Dominion at Virginia. Because the teams will be re-seeded after tonight's games, the Utah-Tulsa winner won't know its next opponent until CBI officials tell them.
GAME NOTES: The Golden Hurricane defeated Miami of Ohio in its first game 61-45 ... Tyler Kepkay, who was thought to have perhaps broken a rib in the UTEP game, is fine and has been practicing the past several days ... A flu bug has been going around the team and coaching staff but seems to be on its way out. Luka Drca had a fever of 101 for last week's game and Carlon Brown is the latest to be sick, but both are expected to play ... The Utes have a 4-1 all-time record against Tulsa, with their last game being a 64-61 overtime victory in the semifinals of the 1999 WAC Tournament.