Utah (8-8) at Washington State (9-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 16, 9:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Beasley Coliseum (11,671) -- Pullman, Washington. Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: Utah 7-4. Washington State 7-2. Away Record: Utah 1-4, Washington State 0-3. Neutral Record: Utah 0-0, Washington State 2-2. Conference Record: Utah 0-3, Washington State 0-3. Series Record: Utah leads, 14-2.
GAMES NOTES: Both the Utah Utes and Washington State Cougars will be battling for their first conference win when they square off in a Pac-12 matchup at Beasley Coliseum on Wednesday night.
After a pair of tight losses to Arizona and UCLA, Utah had a letdown on Saturday as it was routed, 76-59, by USC at the Huntsman Center. The loss moved the Utes to an even 8-8 this season, and was the third loss in as many tries against Pac-12 competition. Going on the road isn't exactly a recipe for success with Utah 1-4 in away contests this season. Utah will be against on the road against Washington next.
The Cougars lost for the third straight game on Saturday, falling 67-54 to California on the road. Washington State is just a game better than Utah overall (9-7). The Cougars are returning to Beasley Coliseum in this contest when they are 7-2 this season. Up next Washington State will host Colorado.
These teams met as conference foes for the first time last season but the end result was all too familiar. Utah won 62-60, to push its all-time advantage against the Cougars to 14-2.
While allowing USC to shoot at an even 50 percent the Utes managed to connect on only 37.5 percent of their shots from the field in their loss on Saturday. Utah was also outscored by a 21-12 margin from beyond the arc, while trailing by as many as 19 points in the contest.
Utah had been a strong defensive team this season. The Utes are surrendering just 58.4 points per game and limiting teams to just 36.5 percent shooting. The Utes' opponent field goal percentage is the eighth-best in the country and the opponent scoring average is among the 35 best nationally, as well. Jarred DuBois (13.3 ppg, 3.6 apg) leads a trio of double-figure scorers for Utah. He is among the top 10 players in the conference in assists and has scored in double figures in three of the last four games, with three 20-plus point efforts on the campaign. Jordan Loveridge (12.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg) and Jason Washburn (10.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg) are the towers in the paint, with Washburn the fifth most productive shot blocker in the conference.
The Cougars were also hampered by a poor shooting performance in their loss to California. Washington State connected on just 33.3 percent of its shots from the floor and only 4-of-18 from the free-throw line in the 13-point loss to the Golden Bears. The Cougars did manage to force a game-high 19 turnovers but it wasn't enough to overcome their 28-10 deficit at the charity stripe.
Washington State is a team predicated on the same pillars as Utah. The Cougars are a very strong defensive squad that struggles offensively. Washington State is dead last in the conference in scoring (63.5), while 10th in field goal percentage (.430). On defense the Cougars have limited foes to just 58.1 points per game and less than 40 percent shooting, both among the top 60 marks in the country. Although they do not score well as a unit the Cougars do have one of the best individual offensive players in the conference in Brock Motum. The 6-foot-10 forward is second in the league in scoring (19.8 ppg), while leading the team on the boards (6.4 rpg). DaVonte Lacy (10.0 ppg) is the only other player scoring in double figures, although Mike Ladd (9.9 ppg) is certainly capable of doing so.
With Motum on the interior the Cougars have the advantage in a scoring option they can continually go to. That should be enough to get them by Utah.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Washington State 65, Utah 59
01/16 10:33:49 ET