SALT LAKE CITY — Utah women’s basketball coach Lynne Roberts doesn’t shy away from in-state rivalries. The Utes have played at least three of them each season since she took the reins in 2015-16.
"I think it would be silly for us to not play the in-state teams, but I say that understanding the risk,” Roberts said. “Our job as coaches is to get our team ready to play whoever we are playing. If we come into it and take them a little more lightly than we should, then we deserve to lose. That is why you play the games and that is why it is our job to prepare our team no matter who you are playing.”
Utah (7-2) faces Utah State (2-8) Monday night in Logan. It caps an in-state slate that featured an 85-58 win at Weber State on Nov. 17 and a 77-68 setback at BYU on Dec. 9.
Last season, the Utes played the Aggies, Cougars and Wildcats, as well as Southern Utah and Utah Valley.
“I think it is good for our sport. My objective here at Utah is to make women's basketball relevant, and I think playing regional and local games matters,” Roberts said. “It is a little bit risky for me to do, maybe, but my job is to get our team ready regardless of who we are playing and to continue to grow the sport in the state of Utah.”
For the record, the Utes are 7-2 against in-state foes under Roberts. They were 5-0 against them in 2016-17.
“I think for us we are a little bit more like the hunted in-state. Those teams and those players, they come ready to play and compete and our players need to be ready for that. We always want to win the in-state games and be the best team in Utah,” Roberts said. “At Utah State is always tough. They actually beat BYU a few days before we played them. They will be ready to play and feeling confident. Those are tough games for our situation to go on the road and play a team that wants to beat you badly. We have to be ready for that.”
The game will be Utah’s second-to-last tune-up (Oral Roberts visits the Huntsman Center on Dec. 21) before opening Pac-12 play Dec. 29 at home against Arizona.
EXTRA POINTS: Utah leads the all-times series with Utah State, 33-2. The Utes have four players scoring in double figures — junior forward Megan Huff (14 ppg), senior forward Emily Potter (13.3 ppg), junior wing Daneesha Provo (12.7 ppg) and freshman guard Tori Williams (10.1 ppg). Utah State leaders include sophomore guard Olivia West (15.8 ppg) and sophomore guard/forward Shannon Dufficy (8.9 rpg).
Utah (7-2) at Utah State (2-8)
Smith Spectrum, Logan
Radio: ESPN 700AM