University beat • Utes face top-10 teams in Pac-12 basketball play; Cougars host San Fran.
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The Utah and BYU women's basketball programs enter conference play this week with different perspectives, if you believe preseason polls.
Utah (9-2) was projected to finish eighth in the Pac-12, while the Cougars (8-4) were seen as favorites to capture the West Coast Conference title.
On paper, the Utes, coming off an upset loss to North Dakota, certainly have plenty of work in front of them as they host No. 7 California on Friday at 6 p.m. before No. 4 Stanford enters the Huntsman Center at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Meanwhile, BYU, which blew out Western New Mexico 72-31, hosts San Francisco at 2 p.m. in the Marriott Center on Saturday.
"This was a good game for the players who usually don't get a lot of playing time," BYU coach Jeff Judkins said following the victory. "I'm glad our walk-ons got some playing time. They work hard every day and deserved it. Our bench really gave us a good lift."
Morgan Bailey scored a team-high 15 points for BYU, and Kim Beeston added 14 points, marking her third straight and eighth overall double-digit outing in points of the season.
As for the Utes, there is a concern on the offensive end of the court. Both Utah losses, including the one to BYU, came when the offense failed to find any consistency. The Utes have been winning with defense and rebounding, holding teams to 33 percent, while grabbing seven more rebounds a game.
"It's going to be incredibly challenging, but that's the fun part of competing in this conference," Utah coach Anthony Levrets said. "You get the opportunity to play against the very best. We're looking forward to seeing how we fit into this league and competing every single night."
Cal holds a 7-4 lead in the all-time series, while the Utes are 0-14 against Stanford.
Utah Valley is young, but the team returns enough experience to make coach Greg Williams optimistic as the Wolverine wrestlers begin their Western Wrestling Conference dual season Friday against No. 16 Wyoming in the PE Building.
"The program is progressing, and we're very pleased with the direction that it is going," Williams said.
Senior Josh Wilson, who finished eighth at the 50th annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships hosted by Northwestern University, is one of eight starters from the 2012 team that went 6-10 overall and 1-5 in WWC duals.