The Utah basketball season officially gets underway on Tuesday night, as the Runnin’ Utes travel to Reno to take on the Nevada Wolfpack, and first year coach Steve Alford. This is the return trip on a home-and-home between the two schools, where Nevada visited Utah a season ago getting a win over the Utes.
In last season’s match up, the Utes were very competitive with the Wolfpack, before fading at the end of the game. Last year’s Nevada team was very hyped going into the season, rightfully so coming off a Sweet 16 and returning most of the team, but they faded as the season went along. Eric Musselman departed the program after building UNR into a very nice Mountain West program.
For the Utes and the 12 new faces on the roster, this is the first step in rebuilding the roster and identity of this program. With so many new faces, it’s hard to say what this team is going to be this season, and what expectations should be. The Pac-12 media picked them 9th in the pre-season poll, and I have a hard time arguing against that as of right now. I’m hoping to see more from Rylan Jones and how he drives this team. Also, I have my concerns about Timmy Allen as a leading option on offense, but we’ll just have to watch and see how he develops. Overall, it will be interesting to see who becomes the primary options for the Utes on this team, and how they gel together on both sides of the floor.
Here’s some more information on Nevada, from the official press release by Utah athletics:
Nevada basically returns two players that saw any sort of minutes on the floor last season on a team that went 29-5 on the year, including a regular-season title (tied) and NCAA Tournament appearance. With the departure of seven seniors and some transfers, first-year head coach Steve Alford reloaded his roster with eight newcomers along with redshirt freshman K.J. Hymes – who was voted on by the Mountain West Conference media corps. as the preseason freshman of the year.
Jazz Johnson and Nisré Zouzoua are the two most veteran players on the team heading into their senior season. Johnson averaged 11 points and shot 48.7-percent from the floor last season while Zouzoua saw action off the bench in 21-of-34 games. Hyme, who averaged 12.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks out of high school was a three-star recruit according to ESPN, Scout and Rivals his senior year at Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix, Ariz.
Here’s how to catch the game:
Location: at Nevada
Tip: 8:30 p.m. (MT)
TV: CBS Sports Network