Runnin’ Utes to Face Tough Test in the Desert


University of Utah sophomore guard Both Gach (11) takes a free throw shot during an NCAA Basketball game vs. The University of Oregon at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Brayden Ramsay, Sports Writer


The University of Utah Runnin’ Utes went 3-3 over the Christmas break, knocking off No. 6 Kentucky during the stretch. Utah would also take down Oregon State and Weber State while dropping games to No. 20 San Diego State, No. 25 Colorado and No. 4 Oregon. The Utes will now hit the road to take on Arizona and Arizona State.


Utah’s Previous Matchup

In a trip to Boulder, the Utes struggled, going down 22-44 at halftime. The Buffaloes couldn’t seem to miss as they shot 59% from the field, and the Runnin’ Utes weren’t able to keep up. Utah lost their second straight game 91-52 on Sunday night.


Utah’s Projected Starters

Rylan Jones has scored 12 points total in the last two games partnered with six rebounds and seven assists. It will be important for Jones to establish himself early and use his vision to find the open man. If he can find a rhythm in the beginning moments of the game, Utah should have a good shot to get the win.

Riley Battin has scored 10 points total in the last two matchups with nine rebounds and one assist. Battin will need to lead the defense by crashing the boards and being aggressive. Alongside Branden Carlson, Battin will need to remain strong in the paint and create opportunities on both ends of the floor.

Timmy Allen had a great game against Oregon with 19 points but was slowed down by the Buffaloes, who only allowed him seven. Allen had 16 rebounds and two assists in the last two games for the Utes. In the upcoming matchup against the Sun Devils and Wildcats, Allen will need to lead the charge offensively. If Allen is able to get some good looks, the Utes should be able to hang with both of these teams.

Carlson has struggled recently for the Utes. In his last two games, Carlson has only had two points, three rebounds, and zero assists. One bright spot though, is his two blocks that he chalked up against Colorado. Carlson will need to step up his game against two solid opponents this week if the Utes are going to have a chance to bring home the victory. If he can remain strong in the paint and be dominant on the defensive side of the ball, the Utes will have a good chance to leave Arizona with victories.

Both Gach balled out against Oregon two weeks ago with a 24 point performance. His clutch plays and aggressive attitude kept the Utes close in a small loss to the No. 4 team in the nation. Gach has been the best player on the team in the last two weeks of play and needs to continue his hot streak this week. If he and Allen can catch fire offensively, watch out. It could be a good week for him and his teammates.


Arizona Player to Watch Out For

Nico Mannion is the son of former Ute Pace Mannion. The former is playing out of his mind this season and is beginning to get looks from NBA teams from across the country. Mannion is a freshman from Pinnacle High School in Arizona and has come on very strong in the beginning parts of the 2019-2020 season. Mannion is averaging just over 14 points a game and just passed the century mark of assists on the year.


Arizona State Player to Watch Out For

Remy Martin is a pesky guard for the Sun Devils who’s aggressiveness and decision making gave the Utes fits last season. Martin is averaging 19 points this year, alongside three rebounds and four assists per game. Martin is coming off of four 20+ point performances against Oregon, Oregon State, Arizona and Texas Southern.


Whats Next

The Runnin’ Utes will be back at home to take on the Washington Huskies and the Washington State Cougars on Jan. 23 and Jan. 25, 2020. Thursday, the game against the Huskies will tip off at 6 p.m. and Saturday’s game against Wazzu will get going at 5 p.m.


Where to Watch

Utah’s first matchup against Arizona will take place on Thursday, Jan. 16 at 6:30 p.m. The game will be played at the historic Mckale Center in Tucson, Arizona. Game two for the week will be against the Arizona State Sun Devils and will be played in Tempe, Arizona at Desert Financial Arena. The second game will tip off at 7 p.m. Both games this week will be televised on Pac-12 Networks, and radio broadcast on ESPN 700.


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