Reininger to be Honored as Utah Men’s Basketball Take on Colorado


University of Utah sophomore forward Riley Battin (21) during an NCAA Basketball game vs. the California Golden Bears at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. (Photo by Jalen Pace | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Brayden Ramsay, Sports Writer


The University of Utah Runnin’ Utes (15-14, 6-11 Pac-12) will take part in their final regular season game on Saturday at home against a conference foe, the Colorado Buffaloes (21-9, 10-7 Pac-12).

Senior night festivities will take place as the lone senior, Marc Reininger, is recognized for his time as a Ute.

At the Jon M. Huntsman Center, McKinley Wright IV leads the Buffs into Salt Lake to take on Timmy Allen and the Runnin’ Utes before the Utes head to Las Vegas for the Pac-12 Tournament next week.


Projected Starters

Jaxon Brenchley is likely to stand in for the injured Rylan Jones to head the point guard position on Saturday afternoon. This isn’t Brenchley’s first time starting, as he got the nod in seven previous games this season. Last week, Brenchley totaled 13 points in 21 minutes of play against Stanford. Look for Alfonso Plummer to also get some playing time after having a career-high 23 points against the Cal Bears.

Allen continues to be the soul of this Utah team going off for 17 points against Stanford and 26 points against California. His scoring ability, partnered with his gritty mentality, makes him a valuable asset to the Utes on the floor. Watch for Allen to play every minute of the game against the Buffaloes on Saturday. He will be key in shutting down Wright while also being Utah’s biggest “it factor” if they get the victory.

Both Gach seemed to snap back into his scoring ways last weekend, scorching the net for 15 points against the Cardinal and 19 against the Golden Bears. Although Gach didn’t start the game against Cal, he registered meaningful minutes and was key in sending the game to overtime. A questionable non-continuation call against Gach at the end of regulation against Cal would have sent the Utes home with the victory. Instead, Utah fell to Cal in overtime.

Mikael Jantunen got his first start of the year against Cal and took advantage of that opportunity. He scored seven points, snatched eight rebounds and dished two assists on the night in Berkeley. Because of Riley Battin’s recent offensive struggles, look for Jantunen to get the start in his place. His physicality and shooting ability should be crucially important in Utah’s game this weekend.

Branden Carlson has been dominant in the latter part of the 2019-20 season. Last weekend, he tied his career high with eight blocks against Stanford while also picking up 12 points in the effort. He also brought down four rebounds in his 33 minutes against the Cardinal. His presence and shot-blocking ability in the post will keep Colorado’s shooting on the perimeter. If the Runnin’ Utes can keep those to low percentage shots, they should be within striking distance towards the end of the game.


Key Notes

Freshman standout Jones is unlikely to play on Saturday due to a concussion suffered last week in California. His offensive abilities will be missed as the Utes welcome the March Madness-bound Buffaloes to the Huntsman Center. He is also unlikely to return for the Pac-12 Tournament.

Senior Reininger will be honored on Saturday for his time spent at the University of Utah. He is the only senior on the 2019-20 team and will be recognized alongside his family and teammates after the Utah vs. Colorado matchup.

This is likely to be Utah’s second consecutive season without a postseason appearance. The Runnin’ Utes last postseason game came in the 2017-18 season, finishing in the NIT Championship game with a 82-66 loss to Penn State.

Utah has lost five of their last six games, with their only win coming against USC on Feb. 23. They have been solid at home, going 11-2 on the year. The same can’t be said about their road performances, though, as they’ve gone 1-9 away from the Huntsman Center.


How to Watch the Game

The Runnin’ Utes will face off against the Buffaloes on Mar. 7 at the Jon M. Huntsman Center. The game will tip at 12:30 p.m. If you’re not able to make it to the game, it will be televised on Pac-12 Networks and radio broadcast on ESPN 700.


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