(Sports Network) — The Utah Runnin' Utes try to extend their current win streak to four games today, as they host the Colorado State Rams in a Mountain West Conference battle at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City.
Since losing seven in a row, the Utes appear to be heading in the right direction and are now an even 3-3 in MWC action. Last weekend, the team easily handled TCU on the road in Fort Worth by a final of 75-62. It was the third double-digit win in as many games for Utah, a team which has been rather strong at home this season with seven wins in 10 tries.
As for the Rams, they rebounded well from their tough loss to nationally- ranked BYU last weekend by claiming a narrow 69-66 decision over Air Force on Wednesday night. The victory lifted CSU to 4-2 in conference and that has the group in third place in the MWC standings heading into the weekend.
Utah holds a commanding 100-44 advantage in the all-time series with the Rams, but it was CSU that posted a 76-67 win in the most recent meeting last year in Fort Collins.
It was a see-saw battle for the Rams earlier this week as they went from an 11-point lead in the first half against Air Force to trailing by eight after the break, but luckily the hosts were out in front when it counted the most. Travis Franklin led four players in double figures with his 21 points, adding seven rebounds and six assists as well, while fellow starter Andy Ogide tossed in another 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the floor. A perfect 6-of-6 shooting performance by Pierce Hornung brought him 13 points, while Greg Smith tacked on 10 in a reserve role as well. As one of the top field goal shooters in the conference at 60.6 percent, it would only make sense that Ogide lead the team in scoring with 15.6 ppg, even though his 54.3 percent accuracy at the free-throw line is certainly suspect. Franklin (15.4 ppg) is also a solid shooter from the floor at 58.4 percent, but the difference between he and Ogide is that he's able to make opponents pay for sending him to the charity stripe (119-of-169).
Despite shooting a sizzling 61.5 percent from the field in the first half against TCU last weekend, the Utes led by just a few points at the break and had to wait for the Frogs to fall apart in the second half to create some distance between the two. Will Clyburn posted a game-high 22 points and also pulled down nine rebounds for the visitors, while Josh Watkins and Shawn Glover registered 14 and 11 points, respectively, as the Utes finished the night shooting 54.7 percent from the floor and 7-of-17 beyond the arc in order to overcome 15 turnovers. Clyburn has been a consistent performer on offense for the Utes this season, registering a team-best 18.9 ppg as the only player to have started all 20 games for the group. In addition to being a tough matchup in the paint with his 8.2 rpg, Clyburn has also been able to drag those defenders out to the perimeter where he has knocked down more three- pointers (47-of-108) than anyone else on the roster. Josh Watkins checks in with 15.3 ppg, which means the duo combines for almost half of the program's 71.5 ppg at the moment.
As well as Utah has been playing of late, the Rams have been doing it all season long and a game like this is one the visitors should be able to secure.