Utah Men’s Basketball to Take on USC, UCLA in Key Conference Matchups


University of Utah freshman forward Mikael Jantunen (20) reacts to the offensive foul call on University of Washington sophomore guard Jamal Bey (5) against Riley Battin (21) of the Utah Utes during an NCAA Basketball game at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Brayden Ramsay, Sports Writer


The University of Utah Runnin’ Utes (12-7, 3-4 Pac-12) will take on the USC Trojans (16-4, 5-2 Pac-12) and the UCLA Bruins (10-10, 3-4 Pac-12) on Thursday, Jan. 30 and Sunday, Feb. 2.


Utah’s Previous Matchup

Utah had a great weekend against the Washington schools, going 2-0 against the Huskies and Cougars. The Utes had an exciting come-from-behind win over the Huskies on Thursday, which was sealed after Rylan Jones drew a charge with only seconds remaining. The Washington State matchup leaned in the Utes’ favor for most of the game. Jones was a major factor, stepping up once again to lead the Utes to victory.


Utah’s Projected Starters

Timmy Allen had 24 total points against Washington and Washington State last week, alongside six assists and 16 rebounds. Allen has been a standout offensively for the Utes this year and will continue to be a problem for opposing defenses in their attempts to slow him down.

Jones was the standout product for the Utes in both games last week. Jones scorched the nets for 13 points against the Huskies and 24 points against the Cougars. Jones’ decision making has been a bright spot for the Utes this year and will continue to shine as he faces USC and UCLA this week. Jones was named the conference freshman of the week after his stellar performance during the series last week.

Both Gach has struggled to get going as of late, and is now at four games in a row at or under five points. Against Washington, Gach had four points, two assists, and two rebounds partnered with a five point, four assist, four rebound performance against Wazzu. He will need to step up his game if the Utes are going to make a push for the Pac-12 this season.

Riley Battin took the crucial charge in game one against the Huskies to seal the victory for the Utes in the final seconds. He had 17 points against Washington partnered with five rebounds to help the Utes get the win. Battin’s numbers might not jump off the page, but his presence on the floor has been crucial for Utah this season.

Branden Carlson had 18 total points last week, combined with four blocks and four rebounds. Carlson is still finding his way around college basketball, but in each game he seems to show more comfort and aggressiveness, especially on the defensive side of the ball. He will have his hands full this week, but if he can get going offensively, things could be dangerous for the Trojans and Bruins.


USC Player to Watch Out For

Onyeka Okongwu has been a pleasant surprise for USC this year, averaging 17.3 points, 3.1 blocks and 8.9 rebounds on the season. He is a handful on both ends of the floor and will be a tough matchup for the Utes under the basket.


UCLA Player to Watch Out For

Prince Ali has struggled as of late scoring the ball but has the potential to score between 15-20 points a game for the Bruins. Ali is coming off an injury that sidelined him for most of the last four games but has the opportunity to do big things if his foot problem gets resolved.


What’s Next for Both Teams

USC will finish off the week by taking on the Colorado Buffaloes in Boulder, Colorado. They will then head down to Tempe, Arizona and Tucson, Arizona to face Arizona State and Arizona next week.

UCLA will also take a trip down to the Grand Canyon State to take on the Sun Devils and Wildcats next week.

Utah will make their way back home to take on the Northern California schools to begin the month of February. First up will be the Stanford Cardinal on Thursday, Feb. 6 at 8 p.m., and the second matchup of the week will be against the California Berkeley Golden Bears on Saturday, Feb. 8 at 6 p.m.


Where to Watch the Game

Both games between the Utes and the Southern California schools can be seen on FS1. The game against USC will tip off at 7:30 p.m. and the matchup against UCLA will get going at 1 p.m. Bill Riley and Jimmy Soto will have the call for both games as they will be radio broadcast on ESPN 700.


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