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           — BRIGHAM YOUNG”                             

Utes hire Smith, schedule upgrade planned

SALT LAKE CITY — Craig Smith was formally introduced as the new men’s basketball coach at the University of Utah. He’s making the move to the Utes after leading Utah State to a 74-24 mark in three seasons, leading the Aggies to the NCAA Tournament each year.

“Craig Smith brings incredible energy and passion, and a proven record of success,” Utah athletics director Mark Harlan said in making the announcement. “I’m thrilled to have him lead our men’s basketball program, and look forward to our student-athletes experiencing his incredible work ethic, dedication to being a teacher of the game, and his ability to relate with his players and help them achieve their greatest potential.”

Smith replaces Larry Krystkowiak, who was let go after 10 seasons at the helm. Utah hasn’t been to the NCAA tourney since 2016 and is coming off a 12-13 campaign.

“This program has a rich tradition of excellence in the history of college basketball. Our facilities are state-of-the-art and first-class in every way,” Smith said after accepting the post. “Our fan base has tremendous energy, knowledge and passion. We can’t wait to pack the Huntsman Center, feed off the energy of The MUSS and bring a consistent winner back to the U.” 

Smith vows to build a culture built on relationships, trust and integrity.

“We’re going to play with tremendous poise and tremendous confidence,” Smith said at a press conference. “The guys are not going to be looking over their shoulder. They’re going to be playing in attack mode for 40 minutes.”

Smith addressed a variety of other topics at a press conference, including non-conference scheduling. He expressed a desire to keep the BYU series going while noting the importance of having other local ties as well.

“This state loves and is passionate about basketball. So regardless of your affiliation, whether you love the Utes, you love the Cougars, you love the Aggies, or the Wildcats of Weber State, or what have you, I think it’s important to play the state schools,” Smith said. “Now are we going to play every school, every year? No. It’s just not feasible and quite frankly that might not be the best situation for us to get ourselves up for success to get to the NCAA Tournament and help our NET ranking.” 

Smith added that there’s science or an art form to that. Thus, he explained, it takes a meticulous approach — a daily deal just to maintain who is looking for games as the staff seeks to win as many Quad One games as possible, accepting marquee matchups and pursuing scheduling opportunities.

“I’ve always believed that to be the best you’ve got to play the best,” Smith said. “Our motto is to bring on the competition.”

Since joining the Pac-12 in 2011-12, Utah’s schedule has been a combination of challenges, cakewalks and avoidance. Idaho State, for example, has faced the Utes four times in the Huntsman Center during that span (the same as BYU). The Bengals have visited the Utes more than Utah State, Weber State, Utah Valley, Southern Utah and Dixie State combined over that time. Even Mississippi Valley State, a team the Utes humiliated by 94 points (143-49) in 2019, has been up on the hill three times to play.

It’s also worth noting that BYU has taken over downtown Salt Lake CIty with a game at Vivint Arena each year. It could be a strong venue for the Utes to play a nationally televised game against a team not willing to necessarily play on Utah’s campus. A bg-time opponent would create some additional buzz for the program.

A quick review of Utah’s non-conference situation during the Pac-12 era:

2011-12

RANKED OPPONENTS: None

LOPSIDED WINS: Idaho State, Portland

IN-STATE GAMES: BYU, at Weber State

2012-13

RANKED OPPONENTS: None

LOPSIDED WINS: Williamette, Idaho State, Central Michigan, Wright State, College of Idaho

IN-STATE GAMES: at BYU

2013-14

RANKED OPPONENTS: None

LOPSIDED WINS: Evergreen State, UC Davis, Grand Canyon,  Lamar, Savannah State, Ball State, Idaho State, Texas State, Saint Katherine

IN-STATE GAMES: BYU

2014-15

RANKED OPPONENTS: at San Diego State, Wichita State, Kansas (at Kansas City)

LOPSIDED WINS: UC Riverside, Rio Grande Valley, North Dakota, Alabama State, South Dakota State, Carroll College

IN-STATE GAMES: at BYU

2015-16

RANKED OPPONENTS: Duke (New York City)

LOPSIDED WINS: Idaho State, Purdue Fort Wayne, Savannah State, Delaware State, College of Idaho

IN-STATE GAMES: Southern Utah, BYU

* at preseason tournament

2016-17

RANKED OPPONENTS: Butler, at Xavier

LOPSIDED WINS: Northwest Nazarene, Concordia, Coppin State, UC Riverside,  Prairie View A&M, at Hawaii

IN-STATE GAMES: Utah Valley

2017-18

RANKED OPPONENTS: None

LOPSIDED WINS: Prairie View A&M, Mississippi Valley State, Eastern Washington, Hawaii, Northwestern State

IN-STATE GAMES: Utah State (Beehive Classic), at BYU

2018-19

RANKED OPPONENTS: at Kentucky, Nevada

LOPSIDED WINS: Maine, Mississippi Valley State, Florida A&M, Northern Arizona

IN-STATE GAMES: BYU (Beehive Classic)

2019-20

RANKED OPPONENTS: Kentucky (Las Vegas), San Diego State

LOPSIDED WINS: Mississippi Valley State, Central Arkansas

IN-STATE GAMES: BYU, Weber State (Beehive Classic)

2020-21

RANKED OPPONENTS: None

LOPSIDED WINS: Idaho State, Idaho

IN-STATE GAMES: at BYU, Utah Valley

*****

Some not-so-great Utah home games during Pac-12 era

2011-12: San Diego Christian, Portland

2012-13: Williamette, Sacramento State, Idaho State, Wright State, Cal State Northridge, College of Idaho

2013-14: Evergreen State, UC Davis, Grand Canyon, Lamar, Savannah State, Idaho State, Texas State, Saint Katherine

2014-15: UC Riverside, Rio Grande Valley, Alabama State, Carroll College

2015-16: Idaho State, Purdue Fort Wayne, Savannah State, Delaware State, College of Idaho

2016-17: Northwest Nazarene, Concordia, Coppin State, UC Riverside, Prairie View A&M

2017-18: Prairie View A&M, Mississippi Valley State, Northwestern State

2018-19: Maine, Mississippi Valley State, Grand Canyon, Florida A&M, Northern Arizona

2019-20: Mississippi Valley State, UC Davis, Central Arkansas

2020-21: New Orleans (canceled), Idaho State, Idaho

*****

Utah vs. the Beehive State (current Division 1 teams)

Series: BYU leads 132-129

First meeting: 1909

BYU (261 meetings dating back to 1909)

Last game at Huntsman: Won 102-95, OT (12/4/20)

Last game in Provo: Lost 82-64 (12/21/21)

Last game at neutral site: Lost 74-59, Beehive Classic (12/8/18)

UTAH STATE 

Series: Utah leads 131-93

First meeting: 1909

Last game at Huntsman: Won 68-67 (11/18/09)

Last game in Logan: Lost 79-62 (11/24/10)

Last game at neutral site: Won 77-67, Beehive Classic (12/9/17)

WEBER STATE 

Series: Utah leads 27-4

First meeting: 1972

Last game at Huntsman: Utah 90, Weber State 75 (2010)

Last game in Ogden: Weber State 80, Utah 51 (2011)

Last game at neutral site: Won 60-49, Beehive Classic (12/14/19)

UTAH VALLEY 

Series: Utah leads 2-0

First meeting: 2016

Last game at Huntsman: Utah 75, Utah Valley 67 (2020)

Last game in Orem: None.

Last game at neutral site: None.

SOUTHERN UTAH

Series: Utah leads 9-2

First meeting: 1996

Last game at Huntsman: Utah 82, Southern Utah 71 (2015)

Last game in Cedar City: None.

Last game at neutral site: None.

DIXIE STATE

Series: Utah leads 2-0

First meeting: 1928

Last game at Huntsman: Utah 83, Dixie State 64 (2008)

Last game in St. George: None.

Last game at neutral site: None.

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