Utah Men’s Basketball to Face Oregon State in Opening Game of Pac-12 Tourney


University of Utah sophomore guard Both Gach (11) guards University of Colorado junior guard McKinley Wright IV (25) during an NCAA Basketball game at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 7, 2020. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Brayden Ramsay, Sports Writer


The No. 9-seeded University of Utah Runnin’ Utes will travel to Las Vegas to take on the No. 8-seeded Oregon State Beavers in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament. The Utes are 16-14 (7-11 Pac-12) while the Beavers are 17-13 (7-11 Pac-12). The winner of this matchup will take on the No. 1-seeded Oregon Ducks in the second round of the tournament.


Projected Starters for Utah

Alfonso Plummer has gone from third-string point guard to dominant starter in the last game of the regular season. He has established himself as a dangerous 3-point shooter who can hit from just about anywhere on the floor. In the last two matchups, Plummer has scored 44 points in 71 minutes of play while also totaling five rebounds and one assist.

Both Gach seems to finally back to 100% after sustaining an injury earlier this year. His scoring has come back to what it was earlier in the season over the last two weeks of the regular season. In his last three games, Gach has scored 62 points, a point total he hadn’t reached in the previous combined nine games. Look for Gach to be crucial in Utah’s tournament run.

Mikael Jantunen replaced Riley Battin as the starter in the last two games of the regular season. He totaled 15 points in those two games while also contributing 19 rebounds and four assists. Jantunen has been crucial for the Utes on the defensive end of the floor while also being a nice role player for the Utes on the offensive end. Look for him to get the majority of the minutes in his position this week.

Timmy Allen is Mr. Reliable for the U’s team. His consistency has been key in helping the Utes stay afloat this season, remaining in contention to make a run at the Pac-12 tournament and have a chance at the NIT. Look for him to step up even more this week as the Utes enter postseason play and are put into win-or-go-home situations.

Branden Carlson’s last two games for the Utes haven’t been as productive as his previous seven games, but his presence is still dominating in the low post. Carlson only totaled four points in the Utes game against Colorado, but he also chipped in two assists and two rebounds on the night. Keep your eye on him to be physical down low and make things difficult for opposing team’s big men.


Notable Factors

Utah is coming off a thrilling overtime win against Colorado, where Gach’s 28 points led the squad to victory. Plummer also chipped in 21 points in an effort to replace starter Rylan Jones.

Gach and Plummer have seemed to find their stride over the last two games, chipping in 47 and 44 points respectively in that span. Allen is also a dangerous threat and has been the most consistent player on the team through the 2019-20 season. In the past two games, Allen has also contributed 36 points to the cause.

Gach was named the conference player of the week after his performance in the regular season finale.

Jones is not expected to participate in the Pac-12 tournament due to a concussion sustained in the second to last week of the regular season.

Utah beat Oregon State at home earlier this season 81-69. They then fell to the Beavers on the road 51-70, splitting the regular season series 1-1.


How to Follow the Matchup

The Utes and Beavers will go head to head in the first game of the Pac-12 tournament on Wednesday, March 11 at 1 p.m. at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The game will be televised on Pac-12 Networks and radio broadcast on ESPN 700 by Bill Riley and Jimmy Soto.


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