UTAH UTES

Utes To Defend Top 25 Ranking With Three Straight Against Top 10 Teams

Jan 22, 2019, 5:13 PM | Updated: 5:23 pm
Utah Utes guard Kiana Moore (0) looks for a teammate after stealing the ball as Utah and Colorado p...
Utah Utes guard Kiana Moore (0) looks for a teammate after stealing the ball as Utah and Colorado play at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. Utah won 78-59. (Scott Winterton, Deseret News)
(Scott Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – With a 16-1 start to the season, the Utah women’s basketball team has risen into the top 25 rankings for the first team since 2008.

Now comes the hard part, the meat of the Pac-12 Conference schedule.

The Pac-12 currently boasts five squads in the top 25, including Utah. The Utes will play three of those four teams in the next stretch of their schedule.

Under head coach Lynne Roberts, who is in her fourth season at the helm, the Utes have won three games against top 25 opponents with the best win coming in 2016 over No. 21 California on the road. But history doesn’t favor the Utes, who haven’t beaten a top-10 since 1984 when they defeated No. 6 Long Beach State, 72-70, at home.

Though Roberts has her team playing the best basketball of her tenure at Utah, the next four games could be their biggest test yet.

California

Though Cal is not ranked, the Golden Bears are no slouches. With a 12-5 overall record, the Bears played well in the nonconference portion of their schedule. They handedly defeated BYU 70-52 in their third game of the season and like the Utes, narrowly lost to Arizona State by one point.

The Bears are led by Kristine Anigwe, who is averaging a double-double with 22.7 points per game go to along with 15.2 rebounds. Her rebounding average is tops in the Pac-12 conference.

It’ll be a good matchup for Megan Huff, Utah’s own double-double machine. She averages 19.6 points per game with 9.4. She has gone for a double-double in five of the last seven games and in nine games overall.

The game with Cal will tip off Friday at 7 p.m. and be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.

Stanford

Following the Cal game, Utah will face a murderer’s row of games with three straight contests against top-10 squads.

Stanford, the No. 6 team in the country, has a similar record to Utah’s with a 16-1 start to the season. The Cardinal’s lone loss was at Gonzaga on Dec. 2.

Since then, the Cardinal has been a machine, with three wins over top-25 teams including No. 3 Baylor, No. 9 Tennessee, and No. 19 Arizona State.

Stanford has three players averaging double figure scoring, led by Alanna Smith, who is averaging 21 points per game on 57.1 percent shooting.

The game against Stanford will tip off Sunday at noon.

Oregon

After playing the two Bay Area teams at the Huntsman Center, the Utes will head to Oregon to take on the Ducks and Beavers.

Against Oregon, they’ll be going up against the class of the conference. Ranked No. 5 in the nation with a 17-1 start, with their lone loss against unranked Michigan State. Still the Ducks have quality wins against No. 4 Mississippi State, No. 18 Syracuse and No. 19 Arizona State.

On a 10-game winning streak, the Ducks are beating teams by an insane margin of 28.9 points per game.

With five scorers averaging at least 10 points, Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu leads the way with 20 points per game.

The game against Oregon will tip off Feb. 1 at 8 p.m.

Oregon State

The Utes’ series of three-straight opponents in the top-10 will conclude with a visit to Corvallis to face the Beavers.

The Beavers lost their last game against Arizona State, 79-76 and have a 15-3 record overall. They’ve played some big names, including Notre Dame, Texas A&M and Duke with the lone win of those three coming against Duke.

Playing the 3-ball seems to be the name of the game for Oregon State. They led the nation in 3-point percentage and have held their last eight opponents to just 25.2 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

The Beavers are held by Destiny Slocum and Mikayla Pivec, who each average 15 points per game.

The game against the Beavers will tip off Feb. 3 at 1 p.m.

 

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Utes To Defend Top 25 Ranking With Three Straight Against Top 10 Teams