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Utah basketball: 3-seed Utes open NIT at home Tuesday against Boise State

First Published      Last Updated Mar 12 2017 09:56 pm


Utah basketball » Tuesday’s game is at the Huntsman Center.

The Utah basketball team didn't go dancing this year, but it will be continuing its season in the National Invitation Tournament.

The Runnin' Utes earned a No. 3 seed in the NIT, and will open at the Huntsman Center with a home game against 6-seed Boise State (19-11) Tuesday at 8 p.m. on ESPNU.

The invitation will cap off a 20-11 season in which the Utes outperformed preseason expectations by finishing fourth in the conference, yet failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament — where they have played the last two years.

The Utes were shaken by a first-round Pac-12 Tournament loss to Cal on Thursday and were looking to rebound from their first defeat in their tournament opener since 2012.



"It is a really good thing for this team to continue the season," junior Kyle Kuzma said in a statement. "This will be a great experience for us, as we are a young team and have a lot of younger guys that continue to grow. It is exciting that we can keep playing basketball."

Boise State finished third in the Mountain West this season, but also suffered a first-round exit in the conference tournament. Utah is 4-3 against the Broncos all-time, last playing them in 2013.

Utah fell into No. 1 seed Illinois State's quadrant this year — the Utes would play on the road against higher seeds No. 1 Illinois State or No. 2 Illinois, but would host all other games until the tournament semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York. Should the Utes win on Tuesday, they would play a second-round game against the winner of Illinois vs. Valparaiso.

Pac-12 rival and No. 4 seed Colorado also shares the quadrant with the Utes, but Utah's bitter rival, BYU, was placed in No. 1 seed Cal's quadrant across the bracket. Utah bought out of a planned rivalry game at Provo this season, but will not face the Cougars in the NIT unless both teams make it to the championship game in New York.

The Utes were last in the NIT in 2014 under coach Larry Krystkowiak, falling in the first round to Saint Mary's.

This is Utah's 13th appearance in NIT, which it won in 1947. The Utes have made it to Madison Square Garden eight times in the NIT, but only once in the last 30 years when the NIT added early-round games at home sites. The Utes are 11-11 in the NIT in program history, and 2-1 in games they have hosted.

The NIT has been used in the past few years as a testing ground for new rules. Included in the rules this year will be 10-minute quarters. There will also be a 20-second shot clock when teams inbound from the front court.

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon

 

AT A GLANCE

More on Boise St.

» Broncos were 19-11 and finished third in the Mountain West.

» Led by 6-foot-7 Chandler Hutchinson, a first-team MWC selection averaging 16.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists in league games.

» Utes are 4-3 against Boise State all-time, 1-1 under Larry Krystkowiak.


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