Runnin’ Utes Look to Rebound Against Colorado

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University of Utah sophomore forward Timmy Allen (1) drives by Colorado junior forward Tyler Bey (1) during an NCAA Basketball game vs. the Colorado Buffaloes at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, March 7, 2020. (Photo by Jalen Pace | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ethan Pearce, Assistant Sports Editor

 

The University of Utah Utes men’s basketball team gets a bit of a breather this week, only playing one game after going through a gauntlet of Pac-12 opponents.

Utah sits at 6-7 overall, 3-6 in the Pac-12. They’re coming off a demoralizing loss to the Washington Huskies on the road, in which they blew a very winnable game to a struggling team. Utah has not looked great recently, with another bad loss, including a blown lead, to Cal the week before. They’re in a rough spot in Pac-12 play, and they’ll need to turn it around quickly to have any realistic tournament hopes, which are dwindling by the day. 

The Matchup

They are off until Saturday when they take on Colorado in Boulder. The Buffaloes are a tough test for the Utes, as evidenced by the loss they took to them earlier this year. Colorado is a fringe top-25 team and a Pac-12 contender. They sit at 12-4 overall, 6-3 in the Pac-12. They’re coming off a win against the Washington State Cougars, 70-59. They’ll play the Cougars one more time at home before facing Utah. 

In the first matchup between the two teams, Colorado won, 65-58. The Utes had it close in the second half before stagnating late and letting the Buffaloes get away with a win. Colorado’s D’Shawn Schwartz and Jabari Walker each had 15 points. McKinley Wright IV, Colorado’s leading scorer, was held to only nine. That will be a key to victory again; if the Utes can limit Wright, they’ll have a much better chance. Timmy Allen had 19 in the last meeting and getting him up there again is also a good sign for the Utes.

Colorado and Utah are 27-27 against each other all-time, in a classic matchup dating back to 1912. This is a chance to break the tie and take the lead against the Buffaloes in the all-time series.

Utes to Watch

Branden Carlson has played very well over his last few outings, but this is a tough test coming up. Colorado is a big team and they’re good on the boards. Utah was outrebounded 49-31 in the last matchup which is obviously not a recipe for success. Carlson had his career-high 18 points against the Huskies on Sunday to go with five rebounds, so he’s surely hoping to build on a strong game.

Ian Martinez played some heavy minutes on Sunday and looked good, scoring eight points on 4-6 shooting. He’s improved a lot over the course of the year, and he’s been rewarded with more minutes recently. 

The starting lineup has gone through some changes over the past few weeks, with coach Larry Krystkowiak tinkering with his options. Don’t be surprised to see another shift this time after the disappointing loss to Washington.

Urgency

This season is starting to look very similar to last year, which is concerning because they were expected to take a jump this season. The team is still very young, with a lot of good pieces up and down the roster. They should be winning games, but they keep running into the same issues each night. Utah is competing and staying in games, but issues with execution, particularly in the second half, cause them to lose more often than they should.

The game will be broadcast on Pac-12 Network at 7:30 p.m. from Boulder, Colorado. It’ll be good for Utah to have nearly a full week off to practice and rest before hitting the road to try to get the season back on track.

 

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