Bleeding Red: It’s a big week for the Runnin’ Utes

The Runnin’ Utes split with the ‘Zona teams
Expecting more would have been quite a dream
The L.A. teams will soon be on The Hill
Another split would really fit the bill

COMMENTARY – Conference play is in full swing for Utah as the Runnin’ Utes traveled down south to take on Arizona and Arizona State this past week. The Runnin’ Utes went 1-1 with a loss to the 17th-ranked Wildcats and a win over the Sun Devils. Currently, Utah is tied with Washington State (both with 2-1 conference records) for fifth place in the Pac 12 Conference. 

utesIt has been interesting watching the Runnin’ Utes play this season, since the team is mostly made up of new players and with a lot of those players being quite young. As a result, Utah understandably hasn’t been as good as they have been the last couple of seasons. But they are still playing well and are holding their own in the Pac 12.

Going into the season the Runnin’ Utes were predicted to finish eighth in the conference. However, I believe that this team is much better than that and right now is right where it should be in the conference standings. 

Utah’s success this season has certainly been a team effort. Returning players Kyle Kuzma and Lorenzo Bonam have consistently played very well this season. In the Runnin’ Utes’ win against Arizona State, Kuzma led the way with a double-double, including a career-high 26 points.

David Collette
David Collette

We have enjoyed Kuzma and Bonam’s play the last couple of seasons, but I have been very impressed by the play of the newcomers. One in particular is David Collette, who transferred to Utah from Utah State last season. While many of the newcomers are also young, Collette is the oldest player on the team by more than a year.

In spite of being ineligible to play for most of the non-conference schedule, Collette has been on fire since his debut in mid-December against Prairie View. Collette has scored in double digits in all seven games of the games he has played in a Runnin’ Ute uniform. He has also played great on the defensive end and has been a huge asset to the team.

Looking forward to this week, Utah has home matchups against two nationally ranked teams, hosting No. 25 USC on Thursday and No. 4 UCLA on Saturday. Both games will be challenging matchups for the Runnin’ Utes, but I am feeling good about Utah winning at least one game against the L.A. schools this week.

So far in the Pac 12, there are four teams that have risen to the top – Oregon, Arizona, UCLA, and USC. The last few seasons, the Runnin’ Utes have struggled to beat the Ducks and Wildcats and have developed a bit of a mental block. However, the Trojans and Bruins, though frequently competitive, have been beatable by Utah.

The Runnin’ Utes have also been known to play better at home than on the road, and have won a number of big games in the friendly confines of the Huntsman Center the last few seasons. Whatever happens, they should both be good games and I can’t wait! Who knows, maybe we’ll even get a visit from Bill Walton as both games will be televised on the Pac-12 Network?

Gymnastics: Meanwhile, back on The Hill, the No. 6ranked Red Rocks kicked off their gymnastics season this past Saturday in a home meet against No. 7 Michigan. Utah soared with a fantastic season-opener and stomped on the Wolverines. Red Rock freshman MyKayla Skinner was the walkaway all-around winner, posting three of the meet’s top four scores in her first appearance for Utah. I am looking forward to watching her perform as the season goes on!

Today’s Bleeding Red column is guest-written by Joshua Vance. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. George News.

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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