SALT LAKE CITY — The teams remain the same, but the game times and matchups have changed.
The second installment of the Zions Bank Basketball Classic, set for Dec. 8 at Vivint Arena, will feature a pair of day games, organizers announced Tuesday. BYU and Utah will face each other at noon MST, while Utah State and Weber State will play at 2:30 p.m.
Last year’s inaugural classic included tips at 5:30 and 8 p.m., respectively, at the Utah Jazz's home arena.
The head coaches for the four schools were in Salt Lake City on Tuesday to promote the event, as tickets sales opened for the 2018 Beehive Classic.
The marquee matchup in the second edition of the classic will be the BYU-Utah game, a rare neutral-site contest between the longtime rivals. The Cougars lead the series 130-128.
“It will probably be pretty full. I’d imagine tickets will be pretty hard to get,” BYU coach Dave Rose said, adding that a noon tip should be fun for the fans.
"It should be rockin' and rollin' at noon, kicking the event off," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak added.
The tip time is advantageous for allowing the teams to be seen across the country, Krystkowiak noted.
“It’s going to be on an ESPN channel, and it’s not going to be at 9 p.m., which is 11 p.m. on the East Coast. So there’s going to be a little bang for the buck that way across the country," he said.
Krystkowiak is also in favor of the early tip time from a performance standpoint.
"We practice at 1 typically every day. From a personal perspective, I’ve always thought (I’m) a little sharper the earlier the game is. I end up becoming a nervous wreck throughout the course of the day," he said.
During the inaugural Beehive Classic, an announced crowd of 7,729 fans took in the two games at the 18,300-seat arena as Utah beat Utah State 77-67 and BYU fended off Weber State 74-68. When asked the low attendance for last year’s event, Krystkowiak said he didn’t notice but expressed confidence this year will be well-attended.
“There shouldn’t be any shortage of seats this year, I think, or butts in the seats,” he said.
Rose also expressed appreciation for the event that allows Utahns to see all four in-state teams in a single day.
"It’s something that I hope that the basketball fans in the state of Utah, no matter what direction we go as far as leagues are concerned, they have a chance to watch the in-state teams play each other and feel that emotion and energy," Rose said.
The second game of this year’s classic will match up the Aggies against the Wildcats one year after Weber State topped Utah State in the 2017-18 opener in Ogden. The Wildcats have won the past two games in the series.
Weber State coach Randy Rahe said he has been onboard for the four-team classic from the time Wildcats athletic director Jerry Bovee pitched the idea to him, and in particular, it’s a boon for the fans.
“All the fans in this state, to come together for one Saturday afternoon, to throw it out there on the line and let’s just go compete, there’s nothing better,” he said.
THE NEW GUY: First-year Utah State coach Craig Smith isn’t unfamiliar with basketball in the Beehive State: he served as director of operations, then as an assistant coach at Colorado State from 2007-12. This will be his first time being a part of the four-team classic, a concept he is impressed with.
“To be able to have this kind of event at such a central location with four schools that are so rich in tradition and history is an event like no other. I’ve never seen this kind of event with the four regional schools, all in one place in an NBA venue. When you add that all together, it’s really one of a kind,” he said.
GIVING BACK: Jim Olson, president of Vivint Smart Home Arena, said that a portion of the proceeds from the classic are donated back to the schools for their scholarship funds.
“Last year, we donated $30,000 to the scholarship funds of these four institutions,” Olson said. “We’re very confident that number is going to grow this year. It’s very important for us to have an opportunity to give back in that way.”
TICKET INFO: Tickets for this year’s Beehive Classic can be purchased online at vivintarena.com, at the Vivint Arena box office or through each participating schools’ athletic department ticket offices. One ticket will provide admission to both games.