BYU has won 44 straight home games. The last time they had done that, Utah walked into the Marriott Center and ended that streak. Will history repeat itself? Probably not, but as Barack Obama says, you gotta have hope. And right now, hope may be the only thing Utah has going for them tonight.
I don't want to sound defeatist and I'm certainly not saying Utah can't win, but realistically, it seems pretty unlikely they'll be able to pull a victory out. Which sucks, since Utah has failed to beat BYU in anything meaningful (ok, women's hoops is kinda meaningful) since the 2006 Mountain West basketball tournament in Denver. That's a long time, especially from Utah's side, since they were dominating the season series up until a couple of years ago.
Tonight's game could get ugly, or it could be a barn burner. Utah has yet to be blown out this season and appears to be playing better ball today than they were when these two teams first met in Salt Lake (a BYU victory). However, Utah also hasn't played in an environment quite like what they're about to face. It's a rivalry game, the Cougars are set to break a school record home winning streak and Utah's sailing their way into the eye of the storm. It sounds bleak, right? Well, I'll put in a bit of that hope I talked about earlier. If Utah is going to make it a game, they will need to weather that storm early on. If they can keep the game close in the first half, not getting down by more than 8, then the Utes should be in good shape. The problem, though, is Utah has struggled playing a complete game. They started extremely slow against the Falcons and Aztecs recently and if they do that tonight, it will probably doom them to defeat.
With that said, the toughness of this team is getting better by the day. They're not mentally weak and they don't roll over when it appears things are going into the tank. That's a mindset I believe can keep them in the game and if it's a close game down the stretch, anything can happen. It's possible, we've got to hope for it, but don't expect it. That way if Utah does win, it'll feel that much greater.
During the football season I brought out the lucky leprechaun when it appeared Utah needed luck the most. Well he's hibernating until the football season starts, so I'm going to bring something else out. It's not pretty, but I think it's a lucky dance that may just provide Utah the spark they need.
Dancing Utah to victory
Hopefully it works. Go Utes!