On the night that Utah honors their former coach — the late Rick Majerus, who spent many seasons in Salt Lake City and brought the Utes to the 1998 national title game — by placing one of his patented, cream-colored sweaters on the first seat on the bench, Larry Krystkowiak’s team put together their most impressive performance since … Majerus was actually on the Huntsman Center sideline?
Boise State was 6-1 on the season coming in, with a 13 point win at Creighton on their resume and their only loss coming by four at Michigan State, but found themselves down 27-8 in the blink of an eye. Utah would push that lead to as much as 26 points en route to a 76-55 win.
“We felt like coach Majerus was with us all night. He was right on the bench with us, smiling down,” senior center Jason Washburn said. “We talked about giving our best, and giving a complete performance. This was a Rick Majerus type of game. We hope that we made him proud.”
Utah finished the game shooting 68% from the floor as they won their sixth game of the season, matching last year’s win total just eight games in and picking up what is undoubtedly the biggest win of Krystkowiak’s tenure.
Boise State came in with a combination of hype and momentum, but they ran into a Utah buzzsaw that sent them back to Idaho with a heaping helping of humility.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.