SALT LAKE CITY — The Runnin’ Utes are returning to the Mountain West Conference — at least for the first game of their nonconference schedule slate.
The Utes open up the 2019-20 season with a road game against last season’s Mountain West runner-up Nevada on Nov. 5. The game will be the only “road” contest of the nonconference schedule for the Utes, who will play six other games in neutral settings — including the Myrtle Beach Invitational, a setting at Vivint Arena, and contests in Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
Utah’s neutral game opponents include Coastal Carolina and Baylor or Ohio at the Myrtle Beach Invitational; Weber State at Vivint Arena; Kentucky in Las Vegas at T-Mobile Arena; and San Diego State in Los Angeles in the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic.
The Wolf Pack beat the Utes in the final game of the nonconference schedule last season in a 15-point blowout at the Huntsman Center. Utah also played Kentucky last season on the road in a 88-61 loss at Rupp Arena. The two opponents, again, become two top-tier matchups for the Utes in the upcoming season.
Utah will renew its in-state rivalry matchup with BYU on Dec. 4 at the Huntsman Center. The Cougars claimed a blowout, 74-59, victory last season against the Utes in the second annual matchup of the Beehive Classic. Utah looks to avenge the loss at home this season.
The Utes will welcome a total of six teams to the Huntsman Center this season, including an exhibition game against University of Texas-Tyler on Oct. 30, Mississippi Valley State on Nov. 8, Minnesota on Nov. 15, UC Davis on Nov. 29 and Central Arkansas on Dec. 7.
“We are very excited about the upcoming season, and look forward to getting back in the gym and gearing up for what is sure to be a great nonconference schedule,” head coach Larry Krystkowiak said in a prepared statement. “This schedule provides a tremendous challenge for our squad and it will help us prepare for the upcoming Pac-12 season.”
Utah opens up the season with a relatively inexperienced roster as senior guards Sedrick Barefield and Parker Van Dyke graduated from the program, and upcoming star forward Donnie Tillman left the program and is expected to transfer to another school. The Utes also lost Jayce Johnson to transfer ahead of his senior season.
Utah will be led by sophomores Timmy Allen, Both Gach and Riley Battin, who got starting minutes last season and were key contributors to the program. However, the roster features several freshman who could have an immediate impact on the team, including redshirt freshmen Naseem Gaskin and Lahat Thioune, and freshmen Rylan Jones and Matt Van Komen.