UTAH AT UNLV
SATURDAY, JAN. 24
UNLV's Keon Clark and Utah's Michael Doleac could knock heads on
four occasions in the coming months: On Saturday and once more
during the regular season, at the WAC tournament in March and at
the NBA draft on June 24. Both senior centers are projected as
first-round picks, which means a gaggle of scouts will be on
hand to watch them jockey for post--and draft--position.
Although Doleac didn't start playing basketball until his junior
year at Central Catholic High in Portland, he has improved
steadily at Utah, and at week's end he led the Utes in scoring
(15.5 points per game) and was second in the WAC in free throw
percentage (86.0). With Finnish phenom Hanno Mottola, a 6'10"
sophomore forward, getting 13.4 points and 5.6 rebounds a game
and junior point guard Andre Miller (14.4 points per game)
proving he's one of the nation's most underrated performers,
Utah (15-0, 3-0 in the WAC) was one of only two unbeatens left
in the country. If the Utes, who were to play Air Force on
Thursday, are still undefeated when they get to Vegas, they
could break an 85-year-old record for the best start in Utah
history with a victory over the Rebels.
To do so they'll have to rein in Clark, who has been a force
inside since returning on Jan. 4 from an 11-game suspension for
accepting a plane ticket from an agent. Clark scored a
career-high 28 points against Air Force in his second game back
and was averaging 18.3 points through Sunday. With junior
forward Kevin Simmons also back in the lineup after a 14-game
suspension for accepting a plane ticket, UNLV (8-7, 1-2) finally
has all of its players in uniform. Not a moment too soon.