Central Michigan (2-1) at Utah (2-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 23, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jon M. Huntsman Center (15,000) -- Salt Lake City, Utah. Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: CMU 1-0, Utah 2-1. Away Record: CMU 0-1, Utah 0-0. Neutral Record: CMU 1-0, Utah 0-0. Conference Record: CMU 0-0, Utah 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The first-ever meeting between the Utah Runnin' Utes and the Central Michigan Chippewas takes place on Friday as part of the Utah Thanksgiving Tournament at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City.
The Utes, who don't play their first road game of the season until Nov. 28 when they visit SMU in Dallas, are off to a 2-1 start. The squad crushed Williamette to open (104-47) and was then defeated by Sacramento State (74-71). On Wednesday, Utah landed back in the win column with a 57-46 triumph over Idaho State.
As for the Chippewas, they've rebounded from a 73-61 season-opening loss to Iowa on the road by posting a 76-62 win against Olivet and a 59-55 final versus Wright State two days ago.
Both teams will be back in action on Saturday as well, with the Utes taking on Wright State and Central Michigan matching up with Idaho State to finish off the tournament.
CMU started out slow against Wright State in the last game, scoring lost five points through the first six minutes of action, but eventually the Chippewas bounced back and moved out to a double-digit advantage before needing a couple of crucial free throws in the final seconds to give them some breathing room. Central Michigan shot only 2-of-14 behind the three-point line, but managed to have a considerable presence in the paint where it registered a 40-29 rebounding edge. Kyle Randall dropped in 13 points and handed out four assists, while John Simons pulled down a game-high eight rebounds to go along with six points. For a team that is scoring just 65.3 ppg, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the Chippewas have just one player scoring in double figures in Randall (13.7 ppg). He, along with Blake Hibbitts lead the group with 4-of-11 shooting behind the three-point line, yet overall the squad is a mere 17-of-57 (.298) on the perimeter.
Trailing by nine points at the half against Idaho State, the Utes bounced back in a big way as they limited the visitors to just five made field goals in the second half and 0-of-9 beyond the arc and they captured the double-digit win. Leading the way for Utah was Dallin Bachynski who generated a huge double- double with 22 points and 16 rebounds, followed by Glen Dean who was the only other double-digit scorer with 11 points. Jordan Loveridge cleared 12 rebounds as the hosts recorded a 41-32 advantage on the glass. Having held at least a share of the rebounding lead in all three games, Bachynski is averaging a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 59.3 percent from the floor, yet only 58.8 percent at the free-throw line. Defensively, this group has hounded the opposition, to the point where they are allowing just 31.3 percent success from the floor and 28.8 percent behind the three-point line.
Central Michigan is not a high-scoring team by any means, but against quality competition that can also be the case for the Utes, although playing at home is certainly an advantage for Utah this week.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Utah 65, Central Michigan 57
11/23 11:01:36 ET