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Utah notes: Utes complete home-and-home series with Butler

INDIANAPOLIS — Prior to Tuesday’s completion of a home-and-home series with Butler, Utah athletics director Chris Hill acknowledged that more games against teams from the Big East Conference may appear on future schedules.

“I think that it might be a good niche for us because it seems like they’re a little more willing to come out our way, where maybe some Big Ten schools aren’t because they have big home crowds and stuff.” Hill said. “Xavier and Butler have been two really good games for us. So, we’re hoping that maybe this is a little niche to get some teams (to Salt Lake) and gets us back in the Eastern time zone and the Midwest. I’m excited that we had this game.”

Butler prevailed 81-69, capping a sweep after defeating Utah last season in the Huntsman Center.

“It’s hit or miss. It’s like getting Missouri at the last minute. Sometimes, it just falls for you,” he said. “But, you know, everybody in college athletics is concerned about non-conference scheduling.”

That’s why, Hill explained, that the Pac-12 has at least discussed going from an 18- to 20-game league schedule.

“We all want to get better games,” he said.

HISTORIC VENUE: Hill made the trip and couldn’t help himself from a little basketball activity after Tuesday’s shootaround at the famed Hinkle Fieldhouse. He said it was kind of like being a little kid.

“It was kind of fun to walk around on the court, bounce the ball on the floor,” Hill noted. “It’s one of the places in the country that’s historic and a fun place to be.”

The Huntsman Center also fits such a bill.

“There’s a lot of history in our building, a lot of history,” said Hill, who mentioned the famed Larry Bird-Magic Johnson NCAA title game in 1979.

Hill acknowledged that Utah’s home could take on some things like Hinkle as far as historical markers and trophy case displays throughout the facility. He said potential concourse renovations down the road could include a Hall of Fame area.

MIGHTY MASCOT: Much like Ralphie the buffalo at Colorado — albeit to a smaller degree — Butler’s real animal mascot strolls around near the playing surface before home games. Butler Blue III, a 5-year-old bulldog that weighs 62 pounds, paraded around the court on a leash held by hius trainer.

SCOUT-A-RAMA: Representatives from the NBA’s Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns were credentialed for the game.

EXTRA STUFF: The announced attendance was 7,638. … Besides scoring a career-best 20 points, freshman Donnie Tillman also led the Utes with seven rebounds and two blocked shots in 27 minutes. … Graduate transfer Justin Bibbins dished out a team-high five assists.