Utah faces San Diego State this afternoon in the midst of the ESPN 24 Hours of Hoops! This will be a huge early barometer game for the Runnin Utes, as SDSU comes into today’s meeting at #16 in the country and the favorites to win the Mountain West Conference. Here are three keys to Utah grabbing a huge road win today:
1. Solve the San Diego Defensive Riddle: Steve Fisher’s teams have been among the best in the country over the last several years defensively. The Aztecs will absolutely guard you everywhere. Utah must find a way to get into it’s offense and get some early buckets. San Diego State will want a game in the 50’s, Utah would prefer a game in the 70’s.
2. Hit the Glass Hard: After defense the thing that Fisher’s teams will do is rebound! Both on the offensive and defensive glass. Spencer, O’Brien, Shepherd and Chol will all go hard to the glass. This is where Utah need the size of Poeltl and the toughness of Reyes inside. The Aztecs haven’t been a great shooting team but they will create 2nd chance opportunities. Utah must limit those.
3. Keep the Crowd out of the Game: Vejas Arena is perhaps the toughest road environment that the Utes will play in all season long. They’ve sold out 39 consecutive games and Tuesday will likely be 40. A good start and some early buckets can keep the rowdiness to a minimum.
A year ago this was a game that Utah would likely play tough in, but come up short down the stretch. Today will be the first opportunity of the season to see if they have figured out how to win a tight game on the road.
Pre Game Coverage starts at Noon on ESPN 700 with Runnin Utes Game Day with Keith Stubbs and Josh Grant. Jimmy Soto and I will be live from San Diego at 1 with a 2pm Mtn time tip on ESPN 700.