SALT LAKE CITY – In theory, the Washington State men’s basketball team should have a good chance to pick up its first Pac-12 road win today at Utah.
The Cougars (9-13, 2-8) have already beaten the Utes (15-7, 4-6) once this season, a 49-46 victory in Pullman on Jan. 12. In that game the Cougars played without leading scorer DaVonte Lacy, who had a career-high 34 points in WSU’s 68-63 loss at Colorado on Wednesday.
It’s no doubt the Cougars are a different team with Lacy back – they averaged just over 49 points per conference game in which he didn’t play but averaged 67.5 in the two played since his return from a rib injury.
However, that difference is not as stark as the metamorphosis Utah undergoes when it steps onto its home court at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.
Utah, picked in the Pac-12 preseason media poll to finish ninth in conference, needn’t envy any school when it comes to fan support. The Utes average 9,711 fans per home game, trailing only No. 2 Arizona among Pac-12 schools.
Those fans have made a difference this season as Utah has yet to win a Pac-12 road game but remains 14-1 on the season at home. That lone loss came in Utah’s Pac-12 opener against Oregon, which was undefeated and ranked No. 10 at the time.