The Runnin’ Utes should have the last piece in place for their tough non-conference schedule this year, and their latest ranked opponent shouldn’t make it any easier.
Utah men’s basketball will take on San Diego State at Viejas Arena on Nov. 18 with a 1 p.m. tip as part of ESPN’s College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon. Not only do the Utes face a team that is ranked No. 20 in ESPN’s preseason poll, but they also head into one of the nation’s most hostile environments, featuring the student section "The Show."
How’s that for boosting strength of schedule?
After a season that saw the team playing one of the nation’s weakest slates — CBS Sports rated the Utes’ non-conference schedule at No. 341 last year — coach Larry Krystkowiak has made a point of getting bigger, badder opponents. Utah’s non-conference foes this season include Kansas, Wichita State, UNLV and, of course, BYU.
San Diego State loses some key pieces from last season, including guard Xavier Thames. But Utah will get a chance to face former Ute J.J. O’Brien, who played in Salt Lake City as a freshman in the 2010-11 season under Jim Boylen.
The game should give the Utah some of its biggest exposure of the season, televised on ESPN. The Tribune learned the game was tentatively scheduled this fall in July. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that SDSU coach Steve Fisher held out for a friendlier tip-off time, with the game originally being scheduled for a noon MT start.
The Aztecs are an old Mountain West foe, and Utah leads the series 53-18. Still, Utah has lost five straight games dating back to 2006.
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