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Ravell Call, Deseret News
Head coach Larry Krystkowiak of the Utah Utes celebrates after his team defeats UCLA in NCAA basketball in Salt Lake City, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014.

SALT LAKE CITY — After going 21-12 in 2013-14 and participating in the National Invitation Tournament, the Utah Utes opted to upgrade this season’s nonconference schedule. They’ve done so with Friday’s official announcement of a schedule that includes contests against Wichita State, Kansas and UNLV — as well as the traditional rivalry game against BYU.

“This nonconference schedule contains a challenging slate of games, both home and away. We as a staff have a strong belief in this team and this schedule, while getting us ready for the rigors of Pac-12 play, will help us take the next step forward,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said in a released statement. “We also wanted to ensure our student-athletes have experiences that they can treasure and keep with them after their playing days. We are very excited for the upcoming season and can’t wait to get things rolling.”

While an additional game will likely be added soon, the announced nonconference schedule includes six opponents that reached postseason play last season. Highlighting the slate is a Dec. 3 game in the Huntsman Center against national power Wichita State. The Utes face BYU one week later in the Marriott Center before taking on Kansas Dec. 13 in the Sprint Center in Kansas City and UNLV in the MGM Grand Showcase on Dec. 20.

Utah’s other nonconference dates include an exhibition against Pacific on Nov. 6 and a season-opening tilt against Ball State at home on Nov. 14. UC Riverside, South Dakota State and Carroll College are also scheduled to visit the Huntsman Center. This year’s Utah tournament is set for Nov. 26-29 with Alabama State, North Dakota and Texas-Pan American joining the Utes in the field.

Utah posted an 11-1 mark in nonconference play last season. Including Pac-12 play, the Utes were 18-2 in the Huntsman Center.

A preliminary conference schedule was also released by Utah on Friday. Finals dates and times won’t be announced by the Pac-12 until Sept. 1.

The Utes, though, will open league play at home with games against UCLA and USC on Jan. 2-4. The rest of the rotation includes a visit by Colorado before road games at Arizona and Arizona State. Then come Huntsman Center appearances by Washington and Washington State before the Utes take on the Buffaloes in Boulder.

Utah’s final eight games begin with home dates against Stanford and California and then a trip to Oregon and Oregon State. Arizona and Arizona State close out the Huntsman Center contests and games at Washington and Washington State round out the regular season prior to the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas.

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