What’s a Ute?
Xavier has had a penchant this season for playing bison/buffalo. Three times this year already, the Musketeers have gone on successful hunts. Today however, it’s a match-up with the Utah Utes. What is a Ute you might ask? Well, here’s the description from Utah’s website:
“University of Utah athletics teams are known as the “Utes” in honor of the American Indian tribe for which the state of Utah is named. The Utes have inhabited this area of the country for at least 1,000 years. There were originally 12 “Nuche”, or “The People”, bands throughout Utah and Colorado. The Utes were among the first American Indians to acquire the horse as a means of transportation, and in rock writing the Utes are depicted as horses.
After several armed conflicts with Mormon settlers in 1861, the Utes were relocated to the Uintah Basin in northeastern Utah. Today, tribal headquarters are in Fort Duchesne, Utah, and the Ute Tribe, with a membership of 3,300 and its own tribal government, remains a vibrant part of the state. The University of Utah, in cooperation with the Ute Tribal Business Committee, is proud to share in the tradition of the Ute tribe through the “Utes” nickname.
[The University’s mascot, “Swoop,” represents the red-tailed hawk, a bird indigenous to the state of Utah.]” So folks, now you know.
Utah (7-2) is not as good as Colorado, but then again, Colorado was not as good as Baylor and look how well that turned out.
Xavier (7-2) has hung their hat on defense through the first nine games, if only because the offense has undergone horrid stretches of inefficiency during prolonged scoring droughts. Look for the offense to collect itself this afternoon, and try to regroup from the last two outings. If there’s ever a game to do that, it’s this one.
On offense, Utah does not shoot the three-ball very well; they’re 227th in the country at 33%. What they do exceptionally well is rebound on the offensive glass (shades of Colorado). They grab almost 40% of their own missed shots, which is good for 13th best in the nation. On the defensive end, Utah does not force a lot of turnovers, and they’re extremely willing to concede the deep shot. The question will be if Xavier is hitting from beyond the perimeter.
As a team, one major positive for Xavier is that the Utes have only faced one team ranked higher than 227th this year. That was a game against Butler that they lost by nine on November 28th. One might look at that preview graphic and wonder why all of their statistics are higher than Xavier’s. Well, there’s your answer: they feasted on lower competition. Utah has played all nine of their games in Salt Lake City, so this will be the first road test of the season.
Name to Know: Kyle Kuzma. The 6’9″ 225 pound junior plays the most minutes on the team and is one of their best rebounders.
Some keys for Xavier will be if RaShid continues to play at the level he did in Boulder, and if the offense will formulate more of a rhythm. If you haven’t picked up on it by now, there is NO REASON to panic.
Playing a true road game is always tough. Playing a true road game against a Big East team is even tougher. Playing a true road game against one of the best teams in the Big East at one of the most hostile environments in college basketball is icing on the cake.
The game is at 5:30 on Fox. Joe Davis is the play-by-play man, and he’s one of the best in the business. This game should be a treat for Xavier fans from start to finish.