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Monday, February 21, 2011
A meaningful win for Utah's Jim Boylen

By Diamond Leung

This hasn't been an easy season for Utah coach Jim Boylen to endure. The Runnin' Utes are 12-15 coming off a 14-17 season. Five players transferred in the offseason, and another left in the fall. He had to miss one game due to a family illness.

And at a time when Utah is nearing its final days in the Mountain West Conference before leaving to the Pac-12, the Salt Lake Tribune reported last week that athletic director Chris Hill "already has begun working the backchannels to prepare for a potential transition."

Jim Boylen
Jim Boylen could be on the hot seat after back-to-back lackluster seasons.
That's why it was an important win when Utah on Saturday came away victorious at The Pit against New Mexico for the first time since 2002 after Chris Hines banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

"The shot felt good but I asked God for help too," Hines said afterward. "There are no words to explain this feeling right now."

That Hines hit the shot was significant as well. It was the redshirt sophomore guard who was Boylen's first recruit after being hired in 2007. Hines hasn't played much in his three years at the program and considered transferring as well in the offseason.

But with junior college transfer and leading scorer Will Clyburn out for the game with a heel injury, Hines got an opportunity and came through, leaving Boylen emotional afterward, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
Boylen was soaked with sweat and choked up after the win.

"We've faced a lot of adversity and I thought we were ready to play but the biggest reason is the respect we have for this program," he said. "The games we've had in this building since I've been here have been unbelievable games, the crowd the intensity. I thought our guys handled it and have grown as the season goes on to play in these environments. We got our butt kicked at San Diego and we responded at BYU and we responded here so we are starting to learn, we are starting to grow."

Clearly even as Utah sits in sixth place in the Mountain West, Boylen believes that in his fourth season the JC transfers and the rest of the recruits he brought in need time to develop.

It was only two seasons ago when Utah won 24 games and made the NCAA tournament. Will Boylen be the coach who leads the program into the Pac-12? That isn't clear, and a columnist at the Deseret News isn't holding his breath.

The road ahead is uncertain, but on Saturday, Utah won in thrilling fashion and got a chance to celebrate.