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Utah preps for Sweet 16 showdown against Duke

Posted at 8:31 PM, Mar 26, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-27 00:15:58-04

HOUSTON -- The University of Utah men's basketball team will take on Duke in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Basketball Tournament on Friday in Houston. Duke is one of the most prestigious college basketball programs in the country, with four national championships--but they have a lot of respect for the Utes.

"We know we are going to play against an outstanding team," said Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. "A very efficient team on both ends of the court and very deep."

The number one task for the Utes is to stop Duke's center, Jahlil Okafor. He's averaging 24 points while shooting 78 percent from the field in Duke's two NCAA Tournament wins.

"He's very versatile," said Utah center Jakob Poeltl. "You can't take away just one move because he always has a counter for it. You have to make it shoot shots over you, block him out, and hope that he misses."

Utah forward Jordan Loveridge summed up their feelings toward Duke.

"We respect them," he said. "It's a tough challenge but we're up for it."

Utah entered the tournament as a No. 5 seed, and they will face No. 1 seed Duke Friday at 7:45 p.m. at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. The Utes have already faced and defeated No. 4 seed Georgetown and No. 12 seed Stephen F. Austin in the NCAA Tournament this year.