Men's Basketball Headed to the Palouse
SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah men's basketball team is on the road the next two weeks with its first stop in The Palouse for an 8 p.m. (MT) tip-off against Washington State this Thursday, Jan. 21, inside Beasley Coliseum.
Greg Heister will have the call between Runnin' Utes and Cougars while former NBA vet Dan Dickau gives commentary as Utah looks to snap its road woes in Pac-12 play Thursday evening. The last time the Utes recorded a road win in conference play was against WSU on Feb. 23, 2019.
Heading into the fourth full week of conference play, Timmy Allen's 17.3 points per game is good for fifth-best in the league while Mikael Jantunen paces the conference with a .636 shooting clip. His 63.6-percent shooting would rank 12th-best in the nation, but his 4.2 FGM average is just shy of the 5.0 FGM average minimum. Pelle Larsson's .920 (23-of-25) clip at the line ranks second behind the .938 clip (45-of-48) from Oregon State's Jarod Lucas.
Rylan Jones' 4.1 assists average is seventh best in the league while his 3.46 assists to turnover ratio is third in the Pac-12 and 18th nationally. Meanwhile, the sophomore's 1.64 steals per game is fifth most.
SCOUTING THE COUGARS
Washington State had one of the best starts in program history this year, kicking off the season with eight-straight wins before a double-overtime loss to Arizona at home, 86-82. Overall, the Cougars sit at 9-4 on the year and 2-4 in conference play with wins over Oregon State (59-55) at home and California (71-60) on the road.
WSU is 14th nationally in the defensive field-goal percentage category, holding opponents to just a .378 clip through games on Jan. 17. It also leads the league in 3-point field-goal defense (.278) and defensive rebounds (29.46 DREB/game), which rank 17th and 14th nationally.
Senior Isaac Bonton, who is second in the league in scoring, is averaging 18.9 points to pace the Cougars while also leading the team with 48 assists and 23 steals on top of his 4.5 rebounds per game. In league play, Bonton has stepped things up for Washington State and is averaging 21.7 points. Sophomore Noah Williams is the only other Coug averaging in double-figures, checking in a 12 points per game with a team-high .436 (17-of-39) shooting clip from long-range. His 25 assists and 15 steals is also second-most on the squad behind Bonton.
Efe Abogidi, who has started in all 13 games for WSU like Williams, is nearly averaging in double-figures with a 9.9 points average to go with a team-best 8.2 rebounding average and .506 (42-of-83) shooting clip. He's also go 25 blocks to his name, which is also a team-high, on top of being an 82.9-percent free-throw shooter – which is the second-highest clip on the team behind Alijaz Kunc's .885 (23-of-26) clip.
LAST TIME OUT
It was a tale of two halves once again for the Runnin' Utes in their four-game homestand finale against California this past Saturday, falling to the Golden Bears 72-63. Despite taking a 34-22 lead into halftime, the Utes couldn't find their rhythm on either side of the ball, allowing Cal to shoot 58.6-percent (17-of-29) from the floor in the second-half while outscoring Utah 50-29.
Once again, turnovers plague the Utes with 17 miscues that led to 17 points for Cal. As a team, Utah only shot 32-percent (8-of-25) from the field – including a dismal 8.3-percent (1-of-12) from long range.
Timmy Allen did his best for the Utes Saturday night; recording 26 points for a new season-high while pulling down six rebounds and five assists but also committed seven turnovers. Pelle Larsson chipped in with 12 points and six boards of his own while Riley Batting added seven points and five rebounds on top of Alfonso Plummer's eight points.
After taking on the Cougars, Utah takes on the other half of the Apple Cup rivalry for a 2 p.m. (MT) tip-off against the Huskies of Washington on Sunday, Jan. 24. The 28th overall meeting between the Utes and Huskies is scheduled to air on either ESPN2 or ESPNU.
Utah continues to stay on the road the following weeks, this time with a single-game at Colorado on Saturday, Jan. 30, at 7:30 p.m. (MT) on the Pac-12 Network. Colorado got the best of Utah last week inside the Jon M. Huntsman Center 65-58 despite the Utes holding a halftime lead.