On paper, Sacramento State is a Big Sky Conference team, and any Pac-12 bunch like Utah is supposed to handle that level of competition rather easily.
Make no mistake, though, Friday's matchup at the Huntsman Center will be a challenge for the Utes, and a significant step up in opposing talent.
Gone are the Simon Frasers. Gone are the Willamettes. From now on, Utah faces legitimate Division I talent every night. The Hornets are the first D-I team to get a crack at what is reported to be a much-improved group of Utes.
"Sacramento State is very athletic and a team that can really score," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "They scored almost 100 points in their first game, so we're really going to have to defend well. They will probably be smaller than us at different positions. But it's a good team that can play."
This is another test for a program trying to rise from the lowest depths of its history.
In doing so, Utah hopes to see another good game from freshman starter Jordan Loveridge. Sacramento State is a team that likes to run and get into early offense. So the Utes will keep a point guard back at all times in hopes of slowing the Hornets down and getting them into a halfcourt type of game.
"The main thing is that they are always looking to push the ball, pass it ahead and get it to the big men down in the paint," senior forward Cedric Martin said. "Sacramento State is a much better team than we've been playing, so we have have to raise our games. We need to start playing better teams and getting ready for conference play. So I'm looking forward to playing this game."
The Utes will regain the services of Jarred DuBois, the senior guard who sat out the season-opening win over Willamette with a hip injury.
DuBois has been practicing all week. Krystkowiak said he would definitely see minutes, but didn't say whether he would out him back into the starting lineup. Freshman guard Justin Seymour played well in his place last week, scoring 16 points and grabbing six rebounds.
"Jarred is big for us because he can create so well and because he can play both guard spots," Krystkowiak said. "Him coming back really gives us another good option."
Sacramento State at Utah
P At the Huntsman Center
Tipoff • Friday, 7 p.m.
TV • Pac-12 Network
Radio • 700 AM
Series history • First meeting
About the Hornets • Sacramento State is 1-0 on the season, scoring 96 points in its opening win. â¦ John Dickson scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the opener. â¦ The Hornets will play Weber State twice this season.
About the Utes • Utah hit the 100-point mark against Willamette for the first time since 1995. â¦ Jordan Loveridge became the first Ute since Andrew Bogut to post a double-double in his collegiate debut. â¦ Utah's top three scorers against Willamette were all freshmen. â¦ The Utes will play four games in eight days, starting with Sacramento State.