There are three teams in the state of Utah that are members of the WAC.
Two of those teams meet on Thursday night at the South end of the state.
When Utah Tech hosts Utah Valley at Burns Arena, all eyes in the state of Utah will be watching.
The Old Hammer Rivalry…dates back to when both Utah Tech (formerly Dixie College) and Utah Valley (formerly Utah Valley State College) were junior college foes.
As junior college foes, Dixie College and UVSC competed in Region 18 along with Snow College, Salt Lake Community College and College of Southern Idaho among others.
Utah Valley then made the leap to the Division I ranks in 2003, thus ending the JUCO rivalry.
At first, it was Wolverines against Rebels. Then, it changed to Wolverines against Red Storm. And now, on Thursday, it will be Wolverines against Trailblazers for the sixth time as conference foes.
Tradition, honor, bragging rights, seeding implications and more are on the line in St. George.
Utah Valley is 8-2 in WAC play and tied with Southern Utah for first place in the league standings. Utah Tech is looking to get back in the win column after a tough road trip to Texas.
The Trailblazers knocked off the Wolverines in dramatic fashion in 2022 at Burns Arena.
You remember…down by three, off a missed free throw, Cam Gooden’s coast-to-coast hoop and harm. Gooden calmly knocked down the free throw and to overtime we went.
In the overtime period, the Trailblazers outscored the Wolverines, 10-5, en route to an 80-75 win.
30 days ago, Utah Valley got the best of the Trailblazers in Orem. The Trailblazers kept things close. Frank Staine’s jumper with 3:55 to play made it a 1-point game.
But, the Wolverines responded with an 11-1 run to end the game and cap off a 71-60 win in the Old Hammer Rivalry.
What will Thursday night do for an encore?
Utah Valley holds a 3-2 edge over the Trailblazers as conference foes. In the lone meeting at Burns Arena, it was the Trailblazers who got it done.
Will the same thing take place on Thursday night?
Cam Gooden is back for the Trailblazers. Gooden did not play in the first meeting between the two teams. Along with Gooden’s presence, Tanner Christensen needs to have a big night for the Trailblazers.
The 6-10 Idaho transfer had just six points and four rebounds back on Dec. 31 in Orem.
Keep an eye on the battle between Christensen and Utah Valley center Aziz Bandaogo.
Bandaogo leads the WAC in blocks, is averaging a double-double, and has had back-to-back monster games for the Wolverines. In the first meeting in Orem, Bandaogo had just five points and seven rebounds.
Whoever wins the battle of the big men on Thursday night, gives their team a leg up.
Keep an eye on the guard battle. Justin Harmon, Trey Woodbury, and Le’Tre Darthard for the Wolverines. Gooden, Isaiah Pope, Noa Gonsalves and Frank Staine for the Trailblazers.
Strength on strength.
Woodbury, Darthard and Harmon combined for 48 of Utah Valley’s 71 points in the first meeting.
The X-factors will be key role players. Jon Judkins rolls out Jacob Nicolds and Dancell Leter. Mark Madsen responds with Tahj Small and Tim Fuller.
Two teams with a lot of talent, a lot of experience, and each playing for some specific reasons.
Utah Valley wants to stay at the top of the standings. Utah Tech wants to keep pace in qualifying for WAC Vegas.
The Wolverines are looking for another in-state win as they are 2-2 against in-state opponents. Utah Tech is looking for its first win against one of its two in-state conference foes.
It’s Wolverines vs. Trailblazers from Burns Arena. Tip is set for 7 p.m. MT and can be seen on ESPN+.