New head coach Brette Tanner and the Wildcats dropped their season opener 70-56 to the Utah Utes on Tuesday night in Salt Lake City.
Tanner kicked off his ACU head coaching career on Tuesday after being an assistant at ACU for the past eight seasons, which was a dream come true for him.
“I mean this is what you dream of doing,” Tanner said. “For me to have my first team and to have guys like this that I’m coaching every day, it’s super special. They’ve got my back and they know I’ve got theirs. It’s a special group and I can’t wait to see what the year holds for us.”
The Wildcats led the turnover margin 20 to 12 against the Utes after the Wildcats were first in the nation last season in turnover margin. Tanner said he was extremely proud of the effort from his team.
“I think we proved tonight that this team is going to be really good,” Tanner said. “It’s rare to say that in a loss but I really feel that way. We play the right way so we’re going to win a lot of games.”
Redshirt junior guard Immanuel Allen led the way for the Wildcats with 13 points off the bench. Allen redshirted his first season at ACU after transferring from Butler Community College. Last season, he tore his ACL after appearing in 14 games.
“I’ve been through a lot of adversity here in my time at ACU and this team has never really given up on me,” Allen said. “They have a lot of trust in me to go out there and make plays. I’m really thankful to have the team that I have because I don’t know if I could do it without them.”
Tanner said he wants fans to know despite the loss, that ACU basketball is not gone and to be proud of the effort they showed against the Utes.
“These fans have a great basketball team,” Tanner said. “I’m super proud of the way they represented themselves with their fight, grit and toughness. Everybody at ACU, forget the scoreboard, should be super proud of what this team did tonight. We represented ourselves really well tonight and it’s going to turn into wins pretty quick.”
Tanner and the Wildcats now look ahead to road trips to Texas A&M and the University of Texas at Arlington before heading home to face McMurry at home on Nov. 19. ACU faces off against Texas A&M next on Friday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. on the SEC Network+.