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NCAAB: Utah looks to right the ship vs. visiting Manhattan

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The Manhattan men’s basketball team is making a cross-country trip from the Bronx, N.Y., to Salt Lake City for a Saturday game against a squad in need of a win and a confidence boost.

While both the Jaspers and Utes come into this matchup off a loss, Utah (6-3) has dropped three of four games since its impressive 5-0 start.

The Utes’ most recent loss — 76-62 at TCU on Wednesday — was their third double-digit defeat in four games, too.

“We will learn from this,” Utah first-year coach Craig Smith said. “It was a tough one, certainly. But we gotta grow from this and get better because we have no time to feel sorry for ourselves with a good Manhattan team coming in on Saturday.”

Jose Perez leads a balanced Manhattan attack with an average of 13.4 points and 6.1 assists. He’s complemented by six players who average between 6.9 and 11.3 points, including Warren Williams (11.3 points) and Ant Nelson (10.9).

Though they outscore opponents by an average of 72.8 to 65.9 points per game — and won four straight before a 90-73 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference loss to Quinnipiac — the Jaspers (6-2) struggle on the boards. They rank 304th in Division I, grabbing just 32.6 per game.

Branden Carlson (13.8 points), Both Gach (13.4) and David Jenkins Jr. (12.4) are the Utes’ most consistent scorers. Utah is bolstered by the return of leading rebounder Marco Anthony (8.0 rebounds).

Securing loose balls will be a priority for the Utes, who struggled with that in their loss to TCU.

“This might sound crazy to some people, but coming up with the ball is a talent,” Smith said. “Why are some guys always coming up with the ball? … We got to be able to make those 50-50 plays, or come down with those tough rebounds, or in the scrums get those balls against good teams. It has been a bugaboo at times for us.”

This is both teams’ only game for a while. Manhattan returns to the East Coast for games against Charleston Southern (Dec. 20) and The Citadel (Dec. 21) in South Carolina, while the Utes have a week off to prepare for a road contest against Missouri on Dec 18.

–Field Level Media

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