Washington State (9-13) at Utah (15-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 8, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jon M. Huntsman Center (15,000) -- Salt Lake City, Utah. Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: WSU 6-4, Utah 15-1. Away Record: WSU 2-7, Utah 0-6. Neutral Record: WSU 1-2, Utah 0-0. Conference Record: WSU 2-8, Utah 4-6. Series Record: Utah leads, 15-4.
GAME NOTES: The Utah Utes will try to continue their dominance at home when they host the Washington State Cougars in a Pac-12 Conference affair at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.
The venue has rarely made a difference for Washington State this season, especially in league action, as they are just 9-13 overall and sitting next- to-last in the league standings (2-8). The Cougars were defeated by Colorado on Wednesday, 68-63, marking their fifth setback in the last six games. They will return home to host California next.
Utah captured a 78-69 win over visiting Washington on Thursday, ending a three-game losing streak in the process. Utah has been absolutely dominant at home (15-1), but has not fared well anywhere else (0-6). At 4-6 in conference play, they are not much higher in the Pac-12 standings than are the Cougars. A visit to USC is next on the schedule.
The road woes for Utah could not have been more evident than when it lost a 49-45 decision to the Cougars on Jan. 12. Washington State has won the last two meetings with the Utes, who still hold a commanding lead in the all-time series (15-4).
DaVonte Lacy poured in a season-high 34 points for Washington State on Wednesday, but he couldn't pull out a win by himself, as the Cougars were defeated by Colorado. WSU was outscored off turnovers, 14-4, and 24-14 in the paint, erasing the benefit of nailing 13 3-pointers.
Even though it came in defeat, getting such a big performance from Lacy (18.3 ppg) was a good sign for the Cougars. The 6-foot-4 guard is by far the best offensive weapon for Ken Bone's club, but he missed significant time this season with an injury. Wednesday was just the second game he has appeared in since his return. Que Johnson (10.8 ppg) is the team's only other double-digit scorer, but he held down the fort while Lacy was out, dropping in at least 15 points in four of the last six games. However, he had only eight points on 2- of-11 from the field against Colorado. In all, the Cougars are dead last in the Pac-12 in most offensive categories, including scoring (62.5 ppg), assists (10.9 apg) and field goal percentage (.414).
Brandon Taylor netted 20 points and Jordan Loveridge (16 points, 13 rebounds) registered a double-double to push Utah past Washington on Thursday. The Utes connected on an incredible 60 percent of their field goal tries, and outscored the Huskies, 22-6, at the free-throw line.
Consistent shooting has been a strength for the Utes, who lead the Pac-12 and rank third nationally in field goal percentage (.503). Utah is also among the top three teams in the league in both scoring (79.2 ppg) and assists (16.3 apg), while holding foes to 63.3 ppg on 40.3 percent shooting. Delon Wright (16.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 5.3 apg, 2.8 spg) is one of the most versatile players in the Pac-12. He leads Utah in scoring and assists, and ranks among the top five in the league in both steals and field goal percentage (.600). Loveridge (16 ppg, 8 rpg) is another strong scorer as well as the team's best rebounder, and Taylor (10.7 ppg) provides further depth.
Beating Utah has been a nearly impossible task for visitors to the Huntsman Center. Washington State doesn't have anywhere near the offensive firepower to expect a surprise victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Utah 77, Washington State 69
02/08 10:35:55 ET