It's hard to believe that a month ago Utah basketball walked into the Thomas & Mac Center and stunned the UNLV Rebels on their home court. It was an important win (at the time) and sparked hope that finally the Utes had overcame their troubles that hindered the team throughout much of November and December.
That was back on January 16th - almost a month ago. Since that win, Utah has gone 2-5. Not exactly the results we expected or hoped for after that stunning win.
Which is hard to digest because I thought this team would find a way to build on that victory. Instead, we've seen losses to Colorado State and New Mexico at home (fascinating note, Steve Alford is 2-1 against the Utes in Salt Lake - the first Lobo coach with a winning record ever up here) and Wyoming on the road. With road games against San Diego State, Colorado State and Air Force left on the schedule and another home game against BYU at the end of the year, you get the feeling that if Utah doesn't take care of business tonight, the season is going to end badly for Coach Boylen and his boys.
The good news is that the Utes have proven they're capable of beating the Rebels. They've already done it. It was probably their most impressive win of the season. Unfortunately, it also means UNLV is looking for a bit of payback after that loss. And truth be told, they're just a far better team. Since that defeat to the Utes, the Rebels have gone 5-2. The exact opposite of Utah's record. Of course, those two losses have come in consecutive games and so it does appear UNLV is slumping very similarly to the Utes.
A win tonight won't salvage the season. It will, however, provide a sweep of the Rebels for the first time since the 2005 season and maybe offer hope things are starting to go in the right direction. A loss? Well let's not think about that right now. We've had too many of those as is.
Anyway, should be a good game and I expect it to be like the New Mexico one. Hopefully, though, it ends differently.