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Drisdom an unsung hero in win

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One of the unsung heroes of Wednesday night's convincing win over BYU was senior guard Tim Drisdom, a three-year starter who has struggled with injuries and other issues this year.

Drisdom only played 16 minutes against the Cougars, but he hit a couple of key shots early in the game to spark the Ute offense and provided leadership on the floor when the Utes started to lose control midway through the second half.

"I was really happy for Tim because it was his last BYU game," said Ute coach Ray Giacoletti. "Tim had his best practice of the year on Monday. We said we're going to need another perimeter player that can really help us and he did a good job."

Drisdom struggled early in the year with his conditioning and then missed four games, including the first BYU game because of a knee injury. He's slowly been getting back into shape and calls himself about 80 percent right now.

"I'm not 100 percent obviously, but I'm feeling a lot better to the point where the brace is off," he said. "I'm starting not to be mindful of the fact that I was hurt. That's the big key to getting better, not thinking about it. I'm getting better physically.

Mentally I've always been there, but physically I'm starting to catch up."

When Drisdom entered Wednesday's game with 13:45 left in the first half, the Utes were down 13-9. He hit a 3-pointer from the left corner, then assisted Shaun Green on a 3-pointer from the opposite corner to tie the game at 15-15.

Then at the 8:25 mark, after BYU stopped an 11-0 Ute run, Drisdom let fly with a 3-pointer from the top of the key. The ball looked off-line, but bounced around the rim about four times before falling through the net to make it 26-15.

"I talked her in," Drisdom said later. "She was obedient and went ahead and dropped for me."

In Drisdom's nine minutes on the floor in the first half, the Utes outscored the Cougars 24-4. He finished the game with just one turnover and three assists, including a no-look pass to Bryant Markson late in the game that thrilled the fans.

LOW CROWDS: The crowd of 12,213 for Wednesday night's Utah-BYU game is believed to be the lowest for a Utah-BYU game since the Huntsman Center opened in 1969 (tell us if you know a lower one).

Part of the reason was the mid-week scheduling, only the second Wednesday game in the 97-year history of the series. The bigger reason is the lack of success by the two rivals this year. The crowd of 13,142 at the Marriott Center last month was the lowest ever for a Utah-BYU game there.

Despite the poor attendance, the Utes still have a chance to top last year's attendance, which included a sellout crowd versus BYU. Right now the Utes are averaging 10,261, below last year's average of 10,777. However it is still second in the MWC behind New Mexico.

The Utes have three games left and could get a large crowd on Feb. 18 against Air Force when Andrew Bogut's number will be retired and all upper bowl seats will be $4 in honor of Bogut's No. 4 jersey.

THE RED GIAC-KET: Giacoletti brought his bright red jacket out of the closet Wednesday night as he has for the other BYU games he has coached.

"The red jacket is just trying to show support," he said. "At least it's 3-1 — that's a pretty good average."

When the BYU fans in the rafters tried their "Ug-ly jac-ket" chant as they did in Provo last month, the Ute student section shut them up with a chant of "Ug-ly stu-dents"

JACKSON HONOR: It's no surprise, but Ute center Chris Jackson, has received another academic honor.

Jackson, who has been a first-team all-Academic selection in the Mountain West Conference throughout his career, has been named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII second team.

The senior from Los Alamos, N.M., has already earned his undergraduate degree in chemical & fuels engineering with a 3.67 grade point average and is currently pursuing a master's degree in business administration.

On the court, Jackson is averaging 7.0 points and 3.6 rebounds and leads the MWC with a 76.5 field goal shooting percentage.

UTE NOTES: Saturday's game at San Diego State will be played at 1 p.m. MST and be televised by ESPN Regional as the MWC Game of the Week . . . The Utes have won six of the seven games at Cox Arena, since it was opened in 1997, all by double-digit margins. The only loss was 58-56 in 2003 . . . At 4-6, the Utes are still a game behind New Mexico and Wyoming, who are tied for fifth place. If the Utes finish fifth, they could meet BYU again in the MWC Tournament . . . With 13 turnovers compared to 14 for BYU, the Utes have had fewer turnovers than their opponent for only the fifth time all season.

E-mail: sor@desnews.com