BOISE — When the Utah basketball team takes on the Boise State Broncos Wednesday night at Taco Bell Arena, it will mark the first game between the two teams in Boise since a 1987 game in the first round of the NIT Tournament.
This time, the Utes hope there will be no shaking backboards.
The last game in Boise was one some Ute old-timers will remember well because of the unusual circumstances in the final seconds that determined the outcome.
The game ended with Albert Springs at the foul line for two free throws that could either win the game, tie it and send it into overtime, or leave the Utes with a loss.
Springs, who passed away two years ago, had been fouled at the rim with one second left and Utah trailing 62-61. However he missed both free throws despite the basketball goal clearly shaking from fans behind the basket.
Ute assistant coach Tommy Connor was the point guard for that team and when asked about his memories of the game, he said, "The basket was shaking on Albert Springs free throws and he missed them. They were moving the basket. I'm still bitter."
The Utes and Broncos had staged a back-and-forth game much of the night before Utah fell behind by 10 points with 10 minutes left. However, behind Mitch Smith, Springs and Connor, they stormed back to cut the lead to one in the final seconds.
After a missed BSU free throw with seven seconds left, Luka Pavicevic found Springs streaking down the left side. Springs appeared to have a clear path for a layup or dunk, but was fouled at the rim, just before the buzzer.
Boise State coach Bobby Dye called timeout to try to freeze Springs, then motioned to the crowd to make noise, before making two substitutions after Springs was at the line in an effort to distract the Utes' senior forward.
Springs' first free throw bounded off the back of the rim. Then with some young fans climbing up the back of the basketball standard, making it shake, Springs' second try fell off the left side of the rim as the game ended.
Bronco fans then stormed the court like they'd won the NCAA championship and the Utes' 17-13 season came to an end.
All these years later, Connor remembers details of that night when he was able to play in his old home town of Boise. He hit some outside jumpers and scored 13 points.
I remember it was a big deal because I was able to go back home," Connor said. "I remember we lost. I think I actually had a pretty good game, but with the loss it obviously meant nothing."
As for Wednesday's game, the Utes will be facing a team that did much better against its "Christian" opponent that they did.
While the Utes struggled to get by San Diego Christian Monday night 58-55, the Broncos cruised by Colorado Christian 95-44 last week.
The Utes know they must take it up a notch in order to have a chance Wednesday.
"They're a high-powered offensive team," said Ute coach Larry Krystkowiak. "They have a 4-man that shoots it and they spread the floor out really well. It's going to be a hostile environment for us, but we'll be ready to roll with a short turnaround."
UTE NOTES: Last year, the Utes overcame a 16-point deficit and won 86-84 on a Will Clyburn 3-pointer with 11 seconds left. In last year's game, Josh Watkins and Jason Washburn each scored 12 points. Those two led the Utes Monday with 23 and 12 points, respectively . . . The Broncos were led in their season opener by freshman Derrick Marks, who came off the bench to score 20 points on 8-of-8 shooting . . . After this game, the Utes return home to play Montana State Saturday at 1 p.m.
Utes on the air
Utah (1-0) at Boise St. (1-0)
Wednesday, 6 p.m.
TV: The mtn. Radio: 700AM