Provo, UT (SportsNetwork.com) - A longtime rivalry will be renewed on Wednesday night, as the 13th-ranked Utah Utes contend with the BYU Cougars in a non-conference showdown at the Marriott Center.
Utah earned its most important win of the young season last time out, escaping with a 69-68 victory over then No. 8 Wichita State. The win was the fifth straight for the Utes, who are 6-1 overall and sit at No. 13 in the AP poll, at their highest ranking since the 2004-05 season. This game begins an important three-game road trip for them, with dates against Kansas and UNLV next.
BYU brings a three-game winning streak into this contest, having topped Eastern Kentucky (90-76), Utah State (91-81) and Hawaii (90-70) during the stretch. The Cougars are 7-2 overall, with a perfect 4-0 mark at home. They visit Weber State in another in-state battle next.
These teams used to compete in the Mountain West and Western Athletic Conferences and the now defunct Mountain States Athletic Conference, so they have had plenty of chances to settle their differences. The Utes hold a slim lead in the all-time series (129-126). Utah added to that lead with an 81-64 win last season, ending a seven-game winning streak for BYU in the series.
Delon Wright nailed a jumper with 14 seconds to play in overtime, lifting Utah to its thrilling win over Wichita State. Wright finished with 13 points, seven assists and six rebounds, while Jakob Poeltl posted a double-double consisting of 12 points and 11 rebounds to go with three blocks.
Utah has normally been a higher scoring team. The Utes are averaging 80.6 points per game, while shooting the eighth-best percentage in the country (.524). They couple such strong offensive production with equally effective defensive play, limiting foes to 56.9 points per game on 35.6 percent shooting. Wright (15 ppg, 5.1 apg, 4.7 apg, 1.7 spg, 1.1 bpg) stuffs the stat sheet and shoots an impressive 57.8 percent from the floor. Poeltl (12 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 3 bpg) is a tremendous force on the inside and Brandon Taylor (11.3 ppg) is another fine scorer.
Tyler Haws, Chase Fischer and Kyle Collinsworth all put forth impressive efforts to lead BYU past Hawaii last time out. Haws finished with 30 points and seven rebounds, Fischer netted 20 points to go with five rebounds and as many assists, and Collinsworth finished with a triple-double of 19 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.
The trio has been excellent all season long for the high-powered Cougars, who lead the country in scoring (94.6 ppg) and assists (20 apg), while ranking 25th in field goal percentage (.490). Haws (24.4 ppg) is one of the best scorers in the nation, while Fischer (15.2 ppg) and Collinsworth (13.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg,5.8 apg, 2.6 spg) are able offensive options, with Collinsworth adding so much more on top. Anson Winder (14.2 ppg) should not be forgotten as well, as he provides a spark off the bench.