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Spivey returns to practice

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Travis Spivey was back practicing with the Utah basketball team Wednesday afternoon after not accompanying the Utes to California for Monday night's game at Saint Mary's College.

Spivey and coach Rick Majerus have apparently patched up their differences, and the senior point guard is expected to play Saturday against UNLV in the Mountain West Conference opener. Majerus was scheduled to address the situation in a press conference Thursday afternoon.

Spivey and Majerus had a confrontation at practice last week that ended with Spivey walking off the court and not returning. After Utah's 41-35 victory over Saint Mary's, Majerus refused to address the situation with Spivey.

Sources close to the team called the incident "not a big deal" and compared it to family members having words with each other and regretting it later.

Majerus reiterated after Monday night's game that there is no problem with Spivey's academics and that he is just one hour short of completing his degree.

"He needs one credit and that one credit course he has (by playing on the basketball team)," said Majerus. "He'll stand for graduation in June, I'll assure you of that."

With Spivey out, freshman Martin Osimani played more minutes than in his previous seven games combined and had his best outing as a Ute with seven points and no turnovers in 25 minutes. Another freshman, Eric Osmundson, got the start but struggled with six first-half turnovers.

UTE NOTES: The Utes kept up their tradition of academic excellence during fall semester. Named to the dean's list with 3.5 grade point averages or better were reserves Lance Allred and Martin Osimani, redshirt Chris Jackson (who had a 4.0 GPA), and walk-on Mike Walkenhorst. Making the honor roll with 3.0 GPAs or better were starter Nick Jacobson, reserves Trace Caton, Cameron Goettsche and Eric Osmundson, redshirt Tim Frost and walk-on Jens Hofer . . .

Tipoff time for Saturday's game with UNLV is 1 p.m. . . . Injured center Chris Burgess ranks fourth in the nation in field-goal percentage at 66.0 percent. He won't stay in the national rankings if he misses more than seven games, however, since a player must play in 75 percent of his team's games . . . Nick Jacobson ranks 17th in the nation in 3-point percentage at 48.6 and 29th in 3-pointers per game (3.0) . . . The Utes, who used to be in the top 10 every year in rebound margin and field goal percentage defense, are way down the list this year. They're only in the top 30 in two categories, 18th in 3-point percentage and 26th in scoring defense . . .

Chris Huber, who returned from his LDS Church mission in November, suited up for the Utes against Saint Mary's and has been practicing with the team. However, he isn't expected to play this year, which will serve as his redshirt season.

E-mail: sor@desnews.com