Utah advanced to the second round of the CBI Tournament with a win over UTEP last week and will face another Conference USA foe Monday night when they travel to Oklahoma to take on the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes. This marks the first time since the old WAC days that the two schools will meet, which -- for Utah fans especially -- feels like ages ago. Tulsa got to the second round by defeating Miami of Ohio 61-45 last Wednesday.
The Golden Hurricanes are 21-13 on the season, but finished only 8-8 in conference play. One of those 8 losses came at UTEP, a team Utah handily beat. But Tulsa is a good team, especially at home, only losing 2 games at the Reynolds Center, once to Tulane and the other to then #1 Memphis. This will pose a problem for Utah, as they have struggled on the road this season, even if you factor in their win last week against UTEP. But Utah does have its advantages, namely at the center spot. Even though Jerome Jordan is Tulsa's 2nd leading scorer with 10 points per game and stands at 7 feet, Luke Nevill outweighs him by a good 30 pounds. That means he should have power inside and if he uses that to his advantage, he could easily dominate the game.
Guard Ben Uzoh is Tulsa's leading scorer, averaging about 15 points per game and even though he isn't nearly as explosive as Stefon Jackson from UTEP, he is capable of putting up some impressive numbers. In their win over Miami, he had 16 points, making 6 of 10 shots. He's also shooting, on average, nearly 50% from the field. He can get hot and burn any team from pretty much any spot on the court. For the Utes to win, they cannot allow that to happen. They did a fairly good job defensively against Jackson last week, that type of effort should be expected again in this game.
The Golden Hurricanes are coached by Doug Wojcik, who is in his 3rd year in Tulsa. Coincidently enough, Jim Boylen replaced Wojcik as an assistant at Michigan State when he left for the Golden Hurricanes in 2005. Tulsa has a 52-41 record under his guidance and are playing in their first postseason in 5 years.
Tulsa advanced to the Conference USA Championship with a 3rd round win over Utah's last opponent, UTEP, where they lost fairly big to Memphis. Their most impressive wins this season came against Charlotte and Colorado, however, outside of that and the three games against Memphis, they really played no one of consequence.
Utah is capable of winning, but it will take a better all around effort than what they gave Wednesday against the Miners. In that game it wasn't as if Utah played too poorly, they just had a few too many rough stretches and against a better team, especially on the road, that can cause a lot more trouble than what they got from UTEP last week.
The game is expected to start at 7:00 Salt Lake time and can be viewed on Fox College Sports, which is provided by both Direct TV and Comcast Cable.