After opening the season with three home games, the University of Utah will make its first road trip of the season with a two-game swing through the Northwest.
The Utes will play the University of Washington on Tuesday night in Seattle and the University of Oregon on Thursday night in Eugene. They'll finish a busy week with a home game two nights later against the University of Denver.The Utes are 2-1, with wins over Division II Cal State-Stanislaus and Humboldt State and a two-point loss to Purdue.
"We played fairly hard against Purdue, and we have to build on this," said Ute Coach Rick Majerus. "The guys came out and really competed in that game. At one point we had three freshmen and a sophomore on the floor against an excellent team."
Washington, 3-1, opened the season with an 82-59 win over Pacific-Oregon, then lost 58-56 to UCLA before beating USC 65-60 Saturday night.
The Huskies have traded assistant coaches with the Utes during the past year. Joe Cravens, an assistant at Washington last year, is now at Utah, and Trent Johnson, an assistant at Utah last year, is now at Washington. Both schools have new head coaches.
Washington Coach Lynn Nance has five starters returning from last year's 12-16 team. His best player is 6-2 senior Eldridge Recasner, an all-Pac-10 guard who last year led the Huskies in scoring (18 points per game), assists, three-point shooting and free-throw accuracy.
The Huskies' other returnees: 6-5 forward Dion Brown (10.9 points per game last year), 6-8 forward Mike Hayward (9.6), 6-7 center Mark West (13.0, 6.5 rebounds) and 6-4 guard Steve Hall (3.6).
Washington and Utah should match up well with their relatively undersized lineups.
"We can play with anyone if we play with great heart like we did against Purdue," said Majerus. "At Washington and Oregon we will see how we face our first road trip. That will be a new encounter for us."
Despite their lack of height and muscle, the Utes have limited their opponents to 40.6 shooting from the field and outrebounded them by an average of 41.7 to 28.3. The Utes also are shooting 51 percent from the field.
Sophomore Josh Grant is averaging 16.3 points and nine rebounds a game. He is one of four players scoring in double figures, the others being Keith Chapman (13.0), Tommy Connor (12.0) and freshman Phil Dixon (10.3).