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Utes garner No. 25 ranking in time to face Cats



SALT LAKE CITY – When coach Jim Boylen was informed near the end of his weekly news conference Monday that his Utah Utes had earned a national ranking to go along with their Mountain West Conference championships and NCAA Tournament berth, he thrust his arms into the air.

“We made it!” he said, half-jokingly.

Achieving a national ranking – the Utes checked in at No. 25 in the AP Top 25 – was one of the things the Utes set out to do this season. “That was a goal of our program, to be in the top 25,” he said. “It was a goal of our program to win a championship in the league, a goal of our program to win a tournament championship, and a goal of our program to be ranked, to be a top 25 program.”

The Utes had not been ranked since the last time they entered the NCAA Tournament, four years ago, before making a run into the Sweet 16.

Expect the zone

The Utes had yet to see much game film of first-round opponent Arizona, but Boylen said he’s worried about the Wildcats’ speed, quickness and ability to score in bunches. They also noticed the Wildcats play quite a bit of zone defense, something the Utes don’t see much except when they play Air Force.

“We have to look to get the ball inside to the high post,” forward Carlon Brown said, “and then attack the gaps, if we can, on the wings and find our shooters open and make sure we rebound and get back on defense.”

Load the bulletin board

Don’t think Boylen did not notice popular broadcasters such as Dick Vitale and Digger Phelps proclaiming the Utes would be an upset victim against Arizona.

“We’ve taped those things and it’s great ammunition for us,” he said. “I think we’ve been doubted all year. We’ll be ready for it.”

Many oddsmakers made the Utes an early 1-point underdog, despite having a No. 5 seed and playing a team that many analysts thought might miss the tournament.

“You get at this level, there are just good, good teams,” Arizona interim coach Russ Pennell said. “All it takes is a team getting hot on a given day, and that’s how come you see some of these upsets.”

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