Utah Runnin ‘Utes has had no COVID-19 issues affecting the rest of the Pac-12 – so far


Utes is going home this week to Washington and Washington State, both of which are on pause related to COVID

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah guard Utes Both Gach (2) was called up for an offensive foul when he collided with Manhattan Jaspers guard Romar Reid (2) during a tackle. basket between the Utah Utes and Manhattan Jaspers at the Jon M.Huntsman Center, on Saturday, December 11, 2021.

The University of Utah men’s basketball team is poised to host Washington State and Washington this weekend. Given what’s happening with college basketball across the country, the Utes playing two qualifying games is remarkable.

The Omicron variant has sparked COVID-19 problems in American sports, including college basketball, where, as of Tuesday morning, more than 60 programs were on health protocol. healthy and safe and unable to exercise.

“We’ve been very lucky in that respect, we haven’t had to postpone or cancel any games up to this point,” said Utes first-year head coach Craig Smith. “Our guys and everyone on our program has chosen to go ahead and do everything they can to put ourselves and our team in a position where it can roll all the time.

Washington and Washington State were scheduled to play on December 29 at Pullman, but the match was postponed due to the Cougars experiencing COVID issues. They exited the pause program on Tuesday and are on track to play Colorado on Thursday. Washington had its own COVID problems but played at Arizona on Monday.

With the exception of Branden Carlson who missed two games last month in health and safety protocol, Utah, for now, hasn’t had the virus issues faced by other Pac-12 teams.

“Our boys are really taking themselves seriously to do whatever they can to play and this is a group that loves to play,” Smith said.

After the tournament-wide COVID troubles completely changed the schedule, there are three Pac-12 matches played over the weekend. Utah played two of them, losing a tough 88-76 at Oregon State on Thursday and 79-66 on Saturday at Oregon.

Between positive tests and a break on the schedule, the game in Corvallis was Carlson’s first since December 11. Smith noted that Carlson had shown a number of games against Oregon State, but looks better than Oregon and now has had more practice time to get the next cadence an upbeat start to the season.

Elsewhere, UCLA, a surprise Finalist participant in 2021 and revisiting the section, hasn’t competed since December 11. In the meantime, the top 10 standout mid-final matchup. with Arizona has been postponed. In contrast to last season’s ongoing schedule, the Bruins on Tuesday announced Wednesday’s tilt against the Long Beach State. It will be their second time playing each other after a 100-79 UCLA win on November 15 at the Pauley Pavilion.

Oregon and Oregon State have had to pause, as well as another top 10 team, USC. Most recently, the State of Arizona on Monday night announced that it would be pausing, erasing upcoming games with UCLA and Arizona.

“I just think you put your heads down, prepare people, and whatever happens will happen,” Smith said. “You feel bad for the student-athletes involved, but at the same time, I think these student-athletes have some pretty tough skin because they’ve been through this for quite a while. .”

Dusan Mahorcic’s return is approaching

Fourth-year striker Dusan Mahorcic is starting his comeback period to return from a right knee injury suffered on November 27 against BYU.

Mahorcic has yet to undergo full training. Smith does not rule out Mahorcic will play this week, but a return on January 13 in Arizona State or January 15 in Arizona would be more likely.

“He’s getting a lot closer, he can do some things on the floor,” Smith said. “Just started last weekend, he’s been working on some skills and looks great. Catching him at pace, we won’t just throw him out there without going through everything. He has to believe it, but we’ll see what happens. I feel very confident saying he will be back next week, but there is a slight chance that he could be back this week. ” Utah Runnin ‘Utes has had no COVID-19 issues affecting the rest of the Pac-12 – so far

Beth Allcock

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