Runnin’ Utes Head on the Road to Face Both Washington Schools After Disappointing Home Stand

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University of Utah Head Coach Larry Krystkowiak walks his team through a play during an NCAA Basketball game vs. the Stanford Cardinals at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Cody | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Cole Bagley, Assistant Sports Editor

 

The University of Utah Runnin’ Utes face a do-or-die week of competition after going 1-3 during a four-game homestand. Utah will head on the road to face both Washington teams with an opportunity to get back on track and elevate their record above .500.

The Runnin’ Utes

Ranking: N/A

Record: (5-6, 2-5 Pac-12)

Last Game: L vs. Cal, 72-63

Utah led at halftime in each of their last four games — and even led by double digits against Oregon, Colorado and Cal — but would eventually lose to each of those teams. Poor second halves have plagued the Utes as they’ve often come out ice cold and given up big runs to their opponent. The recent struggles have left the team feeling frustrated as it is clear they can compete but can’t seem to play a full 40 minutes at a consistent level.

Rylan Jones is experiencing a heavy sophomore slump as over the last four games he’s averaging 2.75 points per game and is shooting at a 15% rate. His play is somewhat alarming as the starting point guard had a mesmerizing freshman campaign where he averaged 9.6 PPG and shot at exactly 40%. Jones will need to try and turn it around if the Utes are to walk away with two wins this week.

Timmy Allen has been a bright spot for the Utes as he’s averaging 22.5 PPG and is shooting at a blistering 54.7% over the last four games. There’s no questioning his commitment and hopefully, his efforts will be rewarded with a few wins in Washington.

The Washington State Cougars

Ranking: N/A

Record: (9-4, 2-4 Pac-12)

Last Game: L vs. USC, 85-77

The Cougars sit just one spot ahead of the Utes in the Pac-12 standings at No. 8. While they are 9-4 overall, they too have struggled in the conference with just two wins in their last six games. While Washington State put up a good fight in their last game against USC, outscoring the Trojans 50-46 in the second half, they couldn’t complete the comeback and lost 85-77.

Despite the loss, the Cougars’ starters scored 71 of the team’s 77 points. Senior guard Isaac Bonton had himself a day as he posted a game-high 27 points on 10-21 from the floor. He’s a player the Utes will need to watch if they are to defeat Washington State this week.

The Washington Huskies

Ranking: N/A

Record: (1-11, 0-7 Pac-12)

Last Game: L vs. UCLA, 81-76

The Huskies are the worst team in the conference as they haven’t won a single game in the Pac-12, and their only win so far was against Seattle University early in December. While they are winless in the conference, Washington has occasionally put up a fight against some of the top dogs, losing to Oregon and UCLA by single digits.

In their last game against UCLA, senior guard Quade Green played extremely well, scoring 25 points on 10-16 from the floor. Despite the loss, this was arguably Washington’s best game as three other Huskies finished with double-digit scoring.

The Utes and Huskies have already faced each other once this season, and Utah walked away with a 76-62 victory. While Quade Green was magnificent with 21 points, only one other Husky finished in double-digits. Utah may look to limit Washington similarly in order to walk away with a second victory over the Huskies this season.

Follow the Matchup

First up, the Utes will face Washington State on Thursday, Jan. 21 with a tip-off of 8 p.m. MST and broadcast on the Pac-12 Network. Next, Utah will face Washington on Sunday, Jan. 24 with a tip-off of 2 p.m. MST and broadcast on ESPN2 or ESPNU. As always, both games will be radio broadcast on ESPN 700 with Bill Riley on the call.

 

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@bagley_cole