December 29, 2014

An experienced backcourt led by versatile senior Delon Wright has paced Utah during another promising start.

Wright, however, understands that the frontcourt players also need to get involved.

Some more stellar performances from freshman forward Brekkott Chapman could make it easier for the No. 10 Utes to accomplish that, though he could see fewer minutes against NAIA opponent Carroll College on Tuesday night in the final tune-up before Pac-12 play.

Wright is the only Division-I player producing at least 16.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game. He has also averaged 19.3 points on 61.5 percent shooting over the past seven contests and has a combined 10 steals in the last three.

With Wright leading the way, Utah is 9-2 - both losses coming against ranked teams - after opening 11-1 last season en route to 21 wins, its most in five seasons.

The Utes now seek their third consecutive victory and 20th in a row at home against non-conference opponents.

Wright, who has never recorded a triple-double, had 17 points, a season-high 10 assists and six rebounds in an 80-66 win over South Dakota State last Saturday. It was Chapman, however, who had a team-leading 22 points off the bench on 9-of-13 shooting.

"Coach has been telling me to stop passing up open looks and take advantage of them," said Chapman, who averaged 5.8 points in the first 10 games. "Whenever I'm open and in the correct position, I'm going to shoot it. When the ball goes in, everything seems easier."

Utah has started at least two upperclassmen in its backcourt in each game this season, including juniors Brandon Taylor and Dakarai Tucker, and has needed that experience to help make up for the loss of junior forward Jordan Loveridge to knee surgery.

Loveridge, the team's second-leading scorer (11.5 ppg), is not expected to return until the Pac-12 portion of the schedule gets undwerway - a slate which begins Friday at home against Southern California.

When Loveridge gets back in the mix with Jakob Poeltl and Chapman, Utah is hoping to have a more diverse offense. Wright and Taylor have combined for 194 of the team's 568 shots (34.2 percent) and 74 of its 193 3-point attempts (38.3 percent).

"We've been trying to do a better job getting the bigs some touches because the guards have been shooting it more," Wright said.

There could be plenty of shots to go around when the Utes face the Fighting Saints from Helena, Montana. This marks the first time a top-10 team in the AP poll has faced an NAIA program since No. 6 Baylor's 95-54 victory over Paul Quinn on Dec. 19, 2011.

Carroll (10-3) is led in scoring by sophomore guard Zach Taylor (18.9 points per game) and freshman forward Oliver Carr (15.8).

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