Feature photo courtesy of Jessica Allen.
After a rocky start to the season, the Utah Valley University men’s basketball has gained some momentum by winning back-to-back games over Big Sky Conference foes, the Weber State Wildcats and Idaho State Bengals.
After a five-game road trip that has featured contests against UNC-Wilmington, 16th-ranked Louisville, and Saint Mary’s of the West Coast Conference, the Wolverines open WAC play on Thursday, January 7, against the defending champion New Mexico State Aggies at home in the UCCU Center. UVU is looking to open WAC play by making a strong statement against the Aggies, who are 1-1 at the UCCU Center all-time including a 51-58 win over the Wolverines last season.
UVU will try to get healthy before hosting NMSU, as several players have been limited to little or no practice time.
“We’re doing this with several of our guys right now, where they don’t practice,” UVU head coach Mark Pope said. “So, when we’re out there… our practices are incredibly short and we walk through a lot and talk a lot, but we just don’t have the luxury of practicing very much because we’re limited.”
Having dealt with a plethora of injuries early in the season, UVU could enter the meat of the conference schedule with a mostly healthy roster set to compete. They welcomed back junior guard Hayes Garrity against UT-San Antonio on December 19. Garrity scored 17 points in just 18 minutes of play. He struggled in his second appearance against UNC-Wilmington as he only scored five points. But he is another player that can score and will be a great boost to guards Marcel Davis and Jaden Jackson as well as the leading scorer on the team, Konner Frey.
The Wolverines that remain on the active roster have impressed Coach Pope with their play and continue to show progress with the new offensive scheme.
“I’ve promised the guys over and over again if they will continue to give us their heart and soul, and if they will compete with every ounce of energy they have, they’re going to have some moments this year that they will never forget,” Coach Pope said. “And I’ve made that promise to them over, and over, and over again.”
Besides facing preseason favorite New Mexico State to open the conference season, UVU also faces the Grand Canyon Antelopes and the Missouri-Kansas City Kangaroos. The ‘Lopes and ‘Roos were picked to finish second and third, respectively, in the preseason conference rankings.
Grand Canyon is currently 11-2 on the season and UMKC is 6-6.
I’m a Pacific Northwest guy who loves his Pacific Northwest sports. An amateur movie buff who prefers the disc to digital. Chasing the sports writing dream while I geek out on Assassin’s Creed.