As the college basketball season turns its focus on the conference battles ahead, Utah six schools are, for the most part, headed in the right direction.
Utah State tops the overall in-state standings with a 10-1 mark, while BYU is at 8-4, with Utah at 7-4 and Weber State at 6-3.
Utah Valley sits at 6-8, whil eSouthern Utah is 3-7 with just a game left in 2012.
The Cougars play host to Northern Arizona tonight at the Marriott Center.
NAU (4-7) is led by senior guard Stallon Saldivar, a former Judge Memorial star who is among the career leaders in assists in the Big Sky Conference.
“It means a lot,” said Saldivar. “They are one of the powerhouses in Utah. I grew up watching them and Utah go at it all the time. It will be fun. The Marriott Center is a great environment. I am excited to get out there.”
Saldivar will be playing in the 100th game of his career .
BYU posted a season-high 27 assists on 38 made baskets in a 95-62 win against Eastern New Mexico last week.
While Brandon Davies and Tyler Haws have played well for the Cougars, the team as a whole has suffered with inconsistency, especially in road games.
The Cougars will host Virginia Tech on Saturday noon at EnergySolutions Arena before opening West Coast Conference play on Jan. 3 by hosting Loyola Marymount.
Randy Rahe’s Weber State squad won a pair of Big Sky road games last week, but the Wildcats step out of conference play to host the University of the Southwest Saturday night at the Dee Events Center.
The Wildcats will be looking to start a new home winning streak as well, after their 20-game mark was broken with a loss to BYU. Rahe and the ’Cats are 30-3 over the past three seasons at the DEC.
Larry Krystkowiak’s Utah Utes ate 7-4 going into Friday’s non-conference tuneup with College of Idaho.
A big part of Utah’s success this season has been its team defense. The Utes (58.9 points per game) are allowing almost eight points less than the national average (66.3).
As a reference, Utah ranks 30th nationally in opponents field goal percentage (38.1) and 28th in opponents two-point field goal percentage (41.2). Last season the Utes ranked 321st and 299th, respectively, in both categories.
Pac-12 play begins in January.
Utah State will begin its final season in the Western Athletic Conference at UTSA on Saturday, followed by a game at Texas State on Monday afternoon.
Stew Morrill’s Aggies have only had a pair of road games this season, but ironically, their only loss was a home defeat to St. Mary’s.
Utah Valley is 6-8 on the season. Nick Thompson, a former Clearfield High star, was named Great West Conference player of the week after averaging a double-double last week for the Wolverines.
Thompson averaged 16 points, 10 rebounds and three assists in two games. He posted his third double-double of the season with 13 points and 12 rebounds in a 67-64 overtime victory against Troy. Thompson also recorded 19 points and pulled down eight rebounds in a loss to North Carolina Central.
The Wolverines will play two games this week at the Dr Pepper Classic at Chattanooga, Tenn., facing Austin Peay on Friday, and then either host Chattanooga or High Point on Saturday.
Southern Utah, is 3-7 after a non-league loss to Denver last week. The Thunderbirds, however are 1-0 in Big Sky play, and will host Northern Colorado on Saturday in a conference clash.