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SALT LAKE CITY -- The Runnin' Utes (5-5) are looking to get back on track after a heartbreaking overtime loss last Saturday against Oklahoma, as they will take on Illinois State (8-2) Saturday afternoon at the Huntsman Center.
The game is being played as part of the first installment of the Mountain West Conference/Missouri Valley Conference challenge. After five games played the Missouri Valley Conference holds the lead over the Mountain West 3-2 with four games, including the Utah/Illinois State match-up, to be played.
In last week's disappointing loss to the Sooners, Carlon Brown (Riverside, Calf.) lead Utah in scoring with 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Junior college transfer Jay Watkins (Memphis, Tenn.) was a spark plug off of the bench scoring 13 points and snatching 6 boards. Ute big man David Foster (Lake Forest, Calf.) contributed in limited playing time, due to foul trouble, with seven points, seven rebounds and six big blocks.
The Redbirds are coming into the Huntsman Center as losers of their last two contests after starting their season with an eight game winning streak. Illinois State coach Tim Jankovich is in his ninth year at the helm and will look to senior guard Osiris Eldridge (Chicago, Ill.) who leads Illinois State with just under 20 points a game. Although Eldridge leads the team in scoring, Dinma Odiakosa (Akwukwu, Nigeria) a senior forward has been a pleasant surprise and hot hand for the Redbirds scoring 14 points and nabbing 11 rebounds in their last three contests.
Coach Jim Boylen will look to senior leaders Luka Drca (Belgrade,Serbia) and Kim Tillie (Cagnes-sur-Mer, France) to get the team back on track. Drca has been the Runnin' Utes' floor general so far this year, leading the team with 42 assists on the season. Tillie has been the garbage man on the squad leading the team with 65 rebounds so far this year. Consistency from Tillie and Drca coupled with the energy of young sharp-shooter Marshall Henderson (Hurst, TX) and second year big man Jason Washburn (Battle Creek, Michigan) the Utes will look to get their fifth win at the Huntsman Center this year.
This will be the first meeting ever between these two schools on the hardwood. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:00pm at the Huntsman Center.
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