After pulling out their blue road jerseys for the first time this season last Friday at ASU, the Wildcats quickly put them back in the box.
They wore red Wednesday, even though the Utes’ fans mostly wore red, and the few empty seats at the Huntsman Center were also in red.
MUSS gains steam
The football version of Utah’s student section – the MUSS, or Mighty Utah Student Section – was named the Pac-12’s second best behind Arizona’s Zona Zoo, according to ESPN’s Ted Miller.
In football, “it numbers just 6,000, but it’s well-coordinated and really, really cares,” Miller wrote. “It shows up and bellows even when things aren’t going well. Just ask BYU fans how great the MUSS is.”
In basketball, the MUSS was making a presence on Wednesday, filling up about 3,000 seats in the Huntsman Center and taking the lead while fans gradually began staying on their feet once Utah began its run in the second half.
Jump hook born here
One chapter of Utah’s proud basketball history belongs to Billy “The Hill” McGill, who starred for the Utes in the early 1960s after arriving from Los Angeles.
McGill, Utah’s entry to the Pac-12’s Hall of Honor this year, was honored at halftime of Wednesday’s game and signed copies of his book “Billy the Hill and the Jump Hook.”
McGill, who grew up in Los Angeles playing pickup games against Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, was a first-team All-American in 1961-62 and the first pick of the 1962 NBA draft, but knee trouble hampered his professional career.
Stumping for the Pac
With Utah pushing to join the NCAA tournament this season, UA coach Sean Miller said he’s hoping the Pac-12 can get between four to six teams in the tournament field, for good reason.
“I know this is the fifth year I’ve been it in it and to me, it’s the best head and shoulders, top to bottom, than I’ve ever coached in,” Miller said. “I would like to think more than four would be appropriate. You watch the quality and depth on a given night.”
Miller says he feels good about reaching the Sweet Sixteen of the Infiniti Coaches Challenge, and having $10,00 donated to the Ronald McDonald House of Southern Arizona in his name, but there’s one thing that still bugs him.
His path to the championship may ultimately be blocked by a good friend.
Ohio State’s Thad Matta has run away with the voting so far, generating about five times as many votes as his competition. As of Tuesday, Matta had 34 percent of the vote, compared with 5 percent for Miller.
“I think Thad Matta has the market cornered,” Miller said. “I’m not sure how he gets as many votes as he gets, especially in that state because I think they’re worried about Ohio State’s football recruiting right now and why they lost the last two games. I want to know how he’s getting that many votes as the basketball coach at Ohio State so we’ll have to investigate that a little bit.”
On to Boulder
The anticipation and hype that Arizona faced at Utah on Wednesday won’t go away this weekend. In fact, it could get worse for the UA.
The Buffaloes will host both the ESPN Game Day crew and the Wildcats on Saturday.
Doors to the Coors Events Center will open at 6 a.m. Sunday before GameDay goes live at 8 a.m. Free breakfast items will be given away to students and a student will get a chance to make a half-court shot for $18,000.
“It’s a huge week for Colorado basketball, there’s no doubt,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said.
The big number
Utah’s average attendance for home Pac-12 games entering Wednesday’s near-sellout, behind only the UA’s 14,545 in the conference.
“Larry and his staff have done a great job. When you consider where they were just a couple years ago, it’s amazing.” — Miller
— Bruce Pascoe