This article was first published in the Ute Insiders newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox each Wednesday night.

Heading into late February, the Utah basketball team is making strides. And it just might be peaking just in time for the upcoming Pac-12 tournament in March.

If nothing else, the Runnin’ Utes have finally figured out how to win close games.

Utah is coming off its first road sweep in three years, with wins over Stanford and California last weekend.

This is the same team that endured a 10-game losing streak — the longest in program history — in January. Utah has pulled itself out of the Pac-12 cellar and is gaining momentum.

“I just feel like every week we have incrementally gotten a little bit better,” said coach Craig Smith. “Our guys have flipped the script in a great way.”

Of course, they’ll have a tough test Thursday when they host No. 2 Arizona. And leading scorer Branden Carlson’s status is uncertain after injuring his ankle late in the Cal game.

But the Runnin’ Utes appear to be finding themselves at the right time of the season.

Numbers game

2: Games won by Utah basketball last weekend, marking its first Pac-12 road sweep since February 2019.

10: Perfect score recorded by Utah gymnast Cristal Isa on the balance beam.

198.000: Season-high score for the Utah women’s gymnastics team in its win over Oregon State last Friday.

From the archives

Utah picks up its first Pac-12 road sweep in 3 years, but it may have come at a price
First 198 since 2020? Utah couldn’t have asked for a better bounce back performance

Extra points

  • Eric Weddle is going to be a high school football coach (Deseret News)
  • MyKayla Skinner is going to compete on ‘American Ninja Warrior’ (Deseret News)
  • The College Football Playoff won’t be expanding anytime soon (Deseret News)
  • Will Kara Eaker be back in time for the postseason? (Deseret News)


Comments from Deseret News readers

“I watched a rerun of her 10. She didn’t miss anything that I could see. At first I thought I detected a very slight moment of imbalance at one point, but upon further review it was just part of her routine. I judge very closely, and to me a 10 should be without flaw of any kind. She did it. Great performance. The team score was incredible!”

— top of the world

“I’m glad the Utes won and are showing some signs of life. However 2 teams which are both now 4-13 in conference play had a gritty tough game against each other and I’m not sure that the winner will be the team that nobody wants to face in the tournament. Smith is showing that he can improve the team, but these results are sort of expected for this season. The aim should be finishing 8th or 9th as that meets the past 2 seasons and with a new HC that’s already a win. Hopefully the Utes can climb into the top 5 next year and keep moving up from there. I absolutely think that Smith will get this team to where they need to be. Wins are great and patience is better. Hopefully they keep showing improvement down the final stretch.”

— Josh from london

Up next

Feb. 24 | 9 p.m. | Men’s basketball | vs. Arizona | @Salt Lake City | FS1

Feb. 24 | 5:30 p.m. | Women’s basketball | vs. Oregon State | @Salt Lake City | Pac-12 Network

Feb. 25 | 6:30 p.m. | Gymnastics | vs. Arizona | @Tucson, Arizona | Pac-12 Network

Feb. 26 | 1 p.m. | Women’s basketball | vs. Oregon | @Salt Lake City | Pac-12 Network

Feb. 26 | 8 p.m. | Men’s basketball | vs. Arizona State | @Salt Lake City | ESPNU