Men's Basketball Welcomes Washington for 2020-21 Opener
SALT LAKE CITY – The long awaited 2020-21 Utah men's basketball season will officially tip-off this Thursday, Dec. 3, at 4 p.m. on the Pac-12 Networks as part of the inaugural 20-game league schedule for the Pac-12.
Todd Harris will have the call Thursday on the Pac-12 Networks while former Cal head coach Wyking Jones serves as the analyst in the 17th meeting between the Utes and the Huskies since joining the Pac-12.
This season's Dec. 3 start is the latest date for a season-opener in the modern era (1975-Pres.). The last time Utah kicked off a season on Dec. 3 or later was against No. 7 USC at home on Dec. as well – a 90-81 contest in favor of the Trojans. Since the start of the program, the Utes have opened a season on Dec. 3 five times and have gone 4-1 overall heading into Thursday's contest against UW.
1970-71: vs. #7 USC – L, 90-81
1955-56: at Wichita State – W, 73-51
1948-49: vs. Idaho – W, 63-39
1945-46: vs. Idaho State – W, 42-26
1931-32: vs. Granite Hardware – W, 59-34
Heading into Thursday's home and season-opener, Utah is 97-16 overall in its home-openers and 77-13 all-time when those home-openers have also served as the season-opener. However, the Utes are just 1-2 all-time when those the aforementioned also serve as the conference-opener.
1915-16: vs. BYU – W, 41-26
1920-21: at BYU – L, 22-16
1922-23: at BYU – L, 36-29
OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN
Utah's team captains were selected over the weekend and Timmy Allen, Rylan Jones and Riley Battin were chosen by their teammates.
RETURN OF THE SOPHOMORES…AND JUNIORS PLUS SENIOR
After featuring arguably one of the nation's young team last year, Utah returns a majority of its offensive production. Heading into the 2020-21 campaign, Utah tops the league with 88.5-percent of its rebounding returning while also returning 87.6-percent of its steals. Meanwhile, the Runnin' Utes check in at No. 2 in scoring (85.7%), three-point field goals (85.8%) and assists (81.8%).
Compared to the rest of the returners in the league, Timmy Allen is seventh in points (892) fifth in rebounds (373), sixth in assists (163) and eighth in steals (63). In addition, sophomore Branden Carlson is sixth amongst active returners in the Pac-12 with 43 blocks his first year as a Ute.
Heading into the 2020-21 season, Utah's roster boasts six international players – which ties them with 11 other schools for the fourth-most international players on a roster. Maine leads Division I with 11 while Cal Baptist has eight. Six schools, including a pair of teams in Arizona and Washington State, are tied for third with seven.
A LOOK AT THE HUSKIES
Heading into Thursday's contest, Washington is 0-2 on the year after opening the season with an 86-52 loss to then No. 2 Baylor on Sunday in Las Vegas after its MTE at home was scratched due to Covid-19 from other participants.
The Huskies were able to add a second game in the Vegas Bubble, but hit a road bump against UC Riverside this past Tuesday and fell 57-42.
RaeQuan Battle was the team's leading scorer on Sunday against Baylor with 10 points on just 3-of-11 shooting while Jamal Bey and Hameir Wright each tallied eight points. The Huskies had trouble on the glass against the No. 2-ranked Bears, losing the battle on the glass 50-19 while giving up 21 offensive boards – which gave BU a 24-7 advantage in second-chance points.
The Huskies return just 35-percent of its scoring a 31.1 percent of its rebounding after Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels were taken in this year's NBA Draft at No. 16 and No. 28, respectively. UW is currently without Naziah Carter, the team's leading scorer from a year ago. However, the Huskies get the services of Quade Green, who missed almost all of the conference season. Green averaged 11.6 points, 2.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists for Washington in the 15 games he saw action.
Washington will also have the services of four transfers this season in Erik Stevenson (Jr., Wichita State), Cole Bajema (So., Michigan), Nate Pryor (Jr., North Idaho College) and J'Raan Brooks (Jr., USC). Stevenson was the second-leading scorer for the Shockers last season, averaging 11.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals. Pryor was also the second-leading scorer for NIC, posting 16.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game. Bajema saw action in 10 games at UM last season, averaging 2.6 points while playing just 3.7 minutes per game. Brooks averaged 2.0 points, 1.3 rebounds and 8.2 minutes off the bench for the Trojans in 2018-19 before transferring to UW.