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Utah basketball might be back. But will the fans follow?

The Runnin’ Utes are 14-7 overall and 7-3 in Pac-12 play — including a huge victory over then-No. 4 Arizona in December. Utah was picked to finish 10th in the league in the preseason.

However, Ute fans aren’t exactly supporting the team in a way befitting the way Utah is playing. Attendance is low enough that the school has hidden the upper bowl behind a curtain — again.

“They decided it creates a better atmosphere,” says John Vu of the school’s sports information department. “They want to fill the lower bowl. Once that fills up they’ll bring down the curtain and open the upper bowl.”

“To do that the school needs to exceed 8,500 fans,” wrote the Deseret News’ Doug Robinson. “According to Deseret News beat writer Jay Drew, the average announced attendance for Utah’s first 10 home games was 5,449, but, as Drew noted, “the actual number of people in the seats … has been considerably lower than that.” Drew reported that between 20% to 30% of ticket holders are not using their tickets; they’re staying home.

With the Runnin’ Utes in second-place in the Pac-12 race, will the fans return to the Huntsman Center?

In case you missed it

Utah has hired a new wide receivers coach — Alvis Whitted, who replaces Chad Bumphis, who took a job at Mississippi State.

Whitted comes to the Utes after spending time with the Green Bay Packers and the Wisconsin Badgers. He coached the wide receivers for Green Bay in 2019, where he worked with All-Pro wideout Davante Adams.

Numbers game

17.1: Points per game averaged by Utah’s Branden Carlson this season.

7.6: Rebounds per game averaged by Carlson.

57: Shooting percentage from the floor by Carlson.

From the archives

Related
Why Runnin’ Utes center Branden Carlson has emerged as a Pac-12 Player of the Year candidate
Utah football season ticket renewals are now underway. What you need to know
Latter-day Saint missionary, college football recruit Walker Lyons gets home visit from national champion coaches

Extra points

  • Craig Smith has Runnin’ Utes off and running in second season at the helm (Deseret News)
  • What Utah ties are being projected as first-round NFL draft picks? (Deseret News)
  • A little too much went wrong and not enough went right for Utah against No. 1-ranked Oklahoma (Deseret News)
  • Alissa Pili, Gianna Kneepkens lead No. 8 Utah past California 87-62 (Deseret News)
  • Impressive weekend sweep after coach’s challenge revives Runnin’ Utes’ NCAA Tournament hopes (Deseret News)
  • How to watch Utah ties in the college football all-star games (Deseret News)

Fanalyst

Utes looked very solid over the weekend and let’s hope that carries over to this week. Need to at least split this Oregon road trip. A sweep would be really nice but given that one of the opponents is Oregon, who has the Utes’ number, I’ll temper expectations.

— pacer

Last year’s team was terrible, we were losing to teams like Washington.

Utah is moving in the right direction. This team is NIT worthy team probably going 5-5 the last 10 games. The five most likely losses will be at Oregon, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and UCLA at home.

We won one game we should have lost (Arizona) but lost 3 games that were winnable at home/SLC (Sam Houston, Oregon, and TCU), and a choke at mediocre BYU.

— Uteology

Up next

Jan. 26 | 9 p.m. | Men’s basketball | vs. Oregon State | @Corvallis, Oregon | Pac-12 Network

Jan. 27 | 7 p.m. | Women’s basketball | vs. USC | @Salt Lake City | Pac-12 Mountain

Jan. 28 | 1 p.m. | Gymnastics | vs. Washington | @Salt Lake City | Pac-12 Network

Jan. 28 | 6 p.m. | Men’s basketball | vs. Oregon | @Eugene, Oregon | Pac-12 Network

Jan. 29 | Noon | Women’s basketball | vs. UCLA | @Salt Lake City | Pac-12 Network

Utah center Branden Carlson comes under pressure from Oregon Ducks players during game at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023. The Utes and Ducks have a date in Eugene Saturday night. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News