Utes Hope To Win 12th Straight Game Over Washington State

Jan 24, 2020, 3:20 PM
Utah Utes forward Riley Battin (21) tries to shoot over the Washington Huskies defense in Salt Lake...
Utah Utes forward Riley Battin (21) tries to shoot over the Washington Huskies defense in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020. The Utes won 67-66. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)
(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The University of Utah men’s basketball team hopes to build upon their emotional win over the Washington Huskies on Thursday night when they host the Washington State Cougars on Saturday evening.

The Utes snapped a four-game losing streak with their win over Washington. They are now 11-7 overall and 2-4 in Pac-12 play.

Washington State holds a 12-8 overall record and 3-4 in conference games.

Utah has been dominant in the all-time series with Washington State, holding a 24-3 record. Since joining the Pac-12 in 2011, the Utes are 12-2 against the Cougars and 7-0 at the Huntsman Center. They have won the last 11 games.

Utah Still Searching For Offensive Boost

As a team, Utah has recently struggled on the offensive end over the last five games. They have shot below 40 percent in 4 of the last 5 games. The Utes were able to get the win over Washington on Thursday despite shooting 33 percent from the field and just 12 percent from the three point line.

The big reason for the win over the Huskies was making 24-32 at the free throw line.

A player that Utah needs in order to get a run started is Both Gach. Since scoring a career-high 24 points against Oregon on January 4, Gach has shot 19 percent (6-31) from the floor and 10 percent (2-20) from beyond the arc.

It’s the first time since conference play began that Timmy Allen is not currently the leading scorer in the Pac-12. Allen has dropped to No. 4 in scoring average at 19.4. Oregon’s Payton Pritchard is the leader at 19.8, Oregon State’s Tres Tinkle is second with 19.6 and Arizona State’s Remy Martin is third at 19.5.

Allen has scored over 20 points in one game during conference play and that was the opener against Oregon State on January 2. Since then, the sophomore has scored 19 against Oregon, 7 against Colorado, 16 against Arizona, 18 against Arizona State and 13 against Washington.

About Washington State

After getting a rare sweep of the Oregon schools last week, the Cougars suffered a setback on Thursday night when they lost to No. 23 Colorado 78-56 in Boulder.

The Cougars are led by sophomore forward C.J. Elleby, who is scoring 18.8 points per game, along with 7.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.7 steals per contest. He is fifth in the Pac-12 in scoring. Junior guard Isaac Bonton is the only other WSU player to average double figures in scoring. He is recording 14.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game this season.

Defensively, Washington State will change their sets, going from a man-to-man defense to a 2-3 zone. Much like the Utes. On the offensive end, the Cougars are not very effective when shooting the basketball. Among the Pac-12 teams, Washington State is 9th in points per game with 71.6, last in field goal shooting at 40 percent, 11th in three-point shooting at 31 percent and 5th at the foul line, making 73 percent of their free throws.

They also rank in the bottom half of the conference in rebounding, assists, steals and blocks.

Major Metric Rankings

Part of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee process is the information compiled from five major metrics, the NET rankings, the three metrics from ESPN, including Strength of Record, BPI and RPI. The final two metrics that are used are the rankings from KenPom and Sagarin.

Utah is ranked No. 77 in the NET ranking after rising two spots after their win over Washington. Washington State is No. 102 in the NET rankings, staying the same after their loss to Colorado. They are the 10th highest ranked team in the Pac-12 according to the NET rankings, while Utah is eighth.

Here is where the other metrics have the Utes this week:

  • RPI – 70
  • SOR – 67
  • BPI – 125
  • KenPom – 119
  • Sagarin – 102

For Washington, here is where the other metrics have them ranked:

  • RPI – 109
  • SOR – 146
  • BPI – 130
  • KenPom – 126
  • Sagarin – 114

Also, the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee uses the Quadrant system where they put the opponent in a quadrant depending on their five ratings in their major metrics. Entering the game against Washington State, Utah is 2-5 against Quadrant 1 opponents. Their five losses came against Oregon, San Diego State, Colorado, Arizona and Arizona State, while their two wins coming against BYU and Kentucky in Las Vegas.

The Utes are 3-0 against Quadrant 2 teams with wins over Nevada, Minnesota and Washington. In Quadrant 3, Utah is 1-2 with both losses coming against Tulane and Coastal Carolina in the Myrtle Beach Invitational with their only win coming against Oregon State. The Utes are 5-0 in Quadrant 4 with wins over Ohio, UC Davis, Weber State, Central Arkansas and Mississippi Valley State.

Washington State has a 1-2 record in Quadrant 1, beating Oregon, while losing to Stanford and Colorado. They are 0-3 in Quadrant 2 with losses to USC, Colorado State and Santa Clara. The Cougars have a 4-2 record in Quadrant 3 with their wins coming against Oregon State, New Mexico State, UCLA and Old Dominion. Their losses in that quadrant were to Nebraska and California. They are 7-1 in Quadrant 4 with victories over UC Riverside, Seattle U, Idaho State, Florida A&M, Idaho, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Incarnate Word. Their only loss was to Omaha.

Utah and Washington State will square off on Saturday evening at the Jon M. Huntsman Center. Tip-off is at 5 p.m. and will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.

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