The Utah basketball team will play for real tonight when it meets Texas State at 7 at the Huntsman Center.
The Utes have already toyed with a pair of non-Division I teams, Whitman College and Northwest Nazarene, in exhibition games, winning by margins of 23 and 29.
However, starting tonight all games count on the win-loss record until March when the Utes play in the Mountain West Conference Tournament and perhaps beyond.
In Texas State, the Utes may face an opponent not much better than their two exhibition opponents. The Bobcats are picked for ninth in the 11-team Southland Conference and have just one player back from a team that finished 14-14 overall.
Coach Dennis Nutt has six freshmen and three junior college players to go with returning guard Lance Burroughs, who started several games last season and Antwoine Blanchard, who redshirted last year.
The other starters are JuShay Rockett, a 6-foot-5 JC transfer, and true freshmen C.J. Webster, a 6-8 forward, and Trevor Cook, a 6-9 center.
The Bobcats defeated Angelo State 74-71 in an exhibition game nine days ago. JC transfer Charles Dotson, a 6-5 forward, led the way with 16 points off the bench. Two other reserves, Jeremy Johnson and Brandon Bush, added nine and eight points, respectively, in the exhibition win.
"They look like a really athletic team," said Utah coach Ray Giacoletti. "They get out and pressure you. We need to be able to handle the basketball."
The Utes, who are coming off a 29-6 season led by college player of the year Andrew Bogut, are expected to start Bryant Markson, Jonas Langvad and Chris Jackson up front with Tim Drisdom and Johnnie Bryant on the guardline.
Freshmen Luke Nevill, Shaun Green and Lawrence Borha are all expected to see a lot of action, along with JC guard Ricky Johns and sophomore Chris Grant, who started in Monday's exhibition.
After tonight, the Utes will meet Rhode Island of the Atlantic-10 Conference Tuesday night. The Bobcats will play at Utah Valley State College Saturday night.
Utes on the air
Texas St. (0-0) at Utah (0-0)
Friday, 7 p.m.