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Utah basketball game guide: Utes looking for homestand sweep against Washington

First Published      Last Updated Feb 10 2017 07:04 pm


A quick look for a game with a quick turnaround ...

Time, Place and [radio waves in] Space • The Deadline Gods are good: This is a 2:30 p.m. game at the Huntsman Center. You can cash it on the TV on Fox Sports 1 or cash it on the radio on ESPN 700 AM — but you can’t cash it outside.

The Line • As of Friday afternoon, Utah is favored by 11 points according to Vegas Insider. The Utes are 11-10-1 against the spread this season. Here’s a split in Utah’s season: They’re 1-4 against the spread in the last five games after reeling off five wins against the spread in the previous five.




Pregame Quotable • From David Collette, who hasn’t played Washington this year, on his ability to be an edge for Utah in the upcoming game: "It’s different watching somebody play. They can scout and watch film on me and stuff, but it’s a little different in the game. I think that’s something that helped tonight as well [against Washington State]. They hadn’t seen me on the floor. I think it will help for sure [against Washington]."

Last time out • Utah had arguably its best offensive performance of the season shooting 60 percent from the field in a 94-72 win over the Huskies. Devon Daniels, Lorenzo Bonam and Kyle Kuzma all scored 22 points or more in the victory behind an unstoppable pick and roll. Markelle Fultz had 30 points but his teammates didn’t contribute much else.

Telling Stat • Utah has had 13 or more turnovers in their last five games while going 2-3. The five games prior going 4-1, Utah didn’t have more than 10 in any one game.

Washington Roster Overview • What I wrote in the last game guide:

Fultz has a gravity around him that few college players possess — it’s hard to believe he’s only been playing basketball for a few years. He can drive, he can shoot, he can pass, he can wipe the glass. He can do everything, and he does it while creating SportsCenter-quality highlights with tough shots and dunks. He’s scored in double figures in all but one game this year, and really only Cal was able to get him completely off his game (12 points, 3 for 15). Around Fultz are some guys who can put up points as well, most notably David Crisp who is hitting 3-pointers at a 45-percent clip, leading the second-best 3-point shooting Pac-12 team (39.7 percent). Noah Dickerson is a one-time 4-star recruit who has found his way a little more and is getting even more time in Malik Dime’s absence. He averages 11.1 ppg and 8.3 rpg. Matisse Thybulle, Dominic Green and Carlos Johnson round out the other main players for UW: Each averages between 5-10 points per game, and each is a wing between 6-4 and 6-6. Washington will likely play a lot of small ball against the Utes, opting for the strength of the lineup right now. As mentioned above, UW is a bad defensive team. But offensively they can keep pace with most, and they have a penchant for getting their own misses.

The biggest difference is that Crisp is now shooting under 40 percent from deep. Fultz is still good, and Washington is still bad at defense.

Behind Enemy Lines • What did Malik Dime’s five fingers say to a CU fan’s face? Slap. But Lorenzo Romar suspended him indefinitely today for that indiscretion, according to the Tacoma News-Tribune.

Something's Gotta Give • Rebounding, Part II. Last time out, Utah won the boards decisively (41-32) despite the fact that they shot so well, there weren’t all that many rebounds to get. Kyle Kuzma in particular stood out with 15 boards, including 10 of Utah’s 32 defensive rebounds. Offensive rebounding is still a stat where UW excels (No. 34 on KenPom). Noah Dickerson and the Huskies should be well motivated to try to have a better showing this time.

UW's Edge • Everything hinges on if Fultz can play. If he can, he’s a guy for whom Utah had no easy answers last time out. Larry Krystkowiak openly admitted that the Utes can’t simulate what Fultz does in practice, and the team can really only prepare for him mentally. He can hit deep shots. He can drive for tough baskets or dish out to the wing. He can key fast breaks. There’s a reason he’s a projected lottery pick. Of course, if he can’t play … ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Utah's Edge • How about the player who missed the last game? David Collette is coming off a 22-point night in which he scratched and clawed against the bigs of Washington State. Theoretically, Saturday afternoon should find him in a more advantageous situation. The Huskies foul more than anyone in the league, and while they are one of the best blocking teams, Utah has plenty of ways to attack the rim for easy passes and Collette has a patience in the post that can help get Washington’s shot blockers to leave their feet. He’s also just shot a career high 13 shots at the line in the last game and hit eight — another area he’ll need to contribute.

Injury Watch • Fultz is obviously the big question here after sitting out the Colorado game with a sore knee. Dime, as mentioned above, is suspended, although he was expected to sit with a broken finger anyway. All the Utes should be healthy, although Krystkowiak mentioned JoJo Zamora had the flu earlier in the week, one of the reasons why Parker Van Dyke got a start against Wazzu. When sickness strikes teams, guys can unexpectedly have to sit out — did the Utes get their flu shots?

Watch Out For • Can Utah get its confidence back and play a complete game? The last game against Washington was probably one of the finest performances of the season, and it marked a point when Utah was looking like a strong bet to make the NCAA Tournament. Since, the Utes have gone 2-3 and have looked like a shell of that streaking team they were. There’s been trust issues, communication issues and focus issues. It’s mid-February. The time to be dealing with those problems is pretty much over if Utah wants to salvage any postseason hopes.

kgoon@sltrib.com
Twitter: @kylegoon

 

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