The last time Utah moved into a tie for first place in the Western Athletic Conference basketball race, it didn't last very long - less than two days to be exact.

It happened two weeks ago after the Utes defeated New Mexico while BYU lost to UTEP. However, two nights later, Utah lost at UTEP while BYU won, and the U. fell back into second place.To stay in first this time, the Utes will need to knock off the Rainbows tonight (10:30 p.m. MST, Channel 2) at the new Special Events Arena.

The Utes were able to move into a first-place tie after beating San Diego State 61-51 Thursday night, while BYU lost to Hawaii on a last-second shot.

Most years since Rick Majerus has been the coach at Utah, his team has been fortunate to play at Honolulu on Thursday rather than Saturday. That gave his team more of a chance to become acclimated to the islands.

"I'd rather go first because it gives you time to get used to the time change, the altitude and the humidity," he said. "This way we'll be in and out."

The Utes were scheduled to arrive in Honolulu Friday afternoon, but the new arena wasn't available for a Ute practice and the Utes won't see it until today's shootaround.

Majerus knows the game won't be easy. The Rainbows are led by 7-foot-2 center Tony Maroney and guard Tes Whitlock, who hit the winning shot against BYU.

"Maroney is big and good and Whitlock is a good shooter," he said. "I think Hawaii's a sleeping giant. Any win over there is an upset."