Men's Basketball Stays on the Road, Visits Oregon State Thursday
SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah men's basketball team begins the final road swing of the regular-season, for now, this week as it heads to the Pacific Northwest to take on Oregon State this Thursday, Feb. 18, for a 6:30 p.m. (MT) tip-off on Pac-12 Networks.
Rich Burk will have the call while Eldridge Recasner serves as the analyst in the first of two meeting between the Utes and Beavers in a five-day span. The last time the two squared off, Alfonso Plummer went off for a Pac-12 and Utah record 11 three pointers in an exhilarating first-round game of the Pac-12 Tournament before everything shut down due to the pandemic.
JANTUNEN LOOKS TO HELP FINNISH NATIONAL TEAM
Utah sophomore forward Mikael Jantunen joined the Finnish National Team after playing against Cal on the road last week in hopes of helping his country advance in the EuroBasket 2022 Qualifier. The Finns are slated to battle the Swiss in an elimination game with both teams sitting at 1-3. Finland and Switzerland take the court against one another on Friday, Feb. 19, at 3 a.m. (MST) / 4 p.m. (GMT +4) local at the Sports Palace in Tbilisi, Georgia.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL HONORS JOHN THOMPSON
Men's basketball coaches around the country will pay tribute to John Thompson Jr. this week by wearing commemorative towels over their shoulders during games, mirroring the late coach's signature sideline look, as part of the NABC launched initiative.
The NABC intentionally targeted the initiative to take place during Black History Month - to honor Thompson for his lasting impact both on and off the court. Towels featuring an image of Thompson were distributed to every NABC-member head men's basketball coach in NCAA Divisions I, II and III and the NAIA. Additionally, every program in HBCU conferences currently competing in the 2020-21 season was outfitted with sets of towels.
The towel initiative originated from the NABC Committee on Racial Reconciliation. In addition, the NABC also provided basketball programs with an educational resource detailing Thompson's social justice advocacy.
Coaches across college basketball will honor the life and legacy of John Thompson this week - by mirroring his signature look.
— NABC (@NABC1927) February 15, 2021
SCOUTING THE BEAVERS
Thursday's battle between Utah and Oregon State will feature a pair of the league's top 3-point shooters in Jarod Lucas and Alfonso Plummer. Lucas leads the league with 47 triples on the year while Plummer is fifth with 40. The last time the two squared off, Plummer drained 11 from downtown for a career-high 35 points while Lucas went 4-of-6 from deep for 12 points – including the game-winning corner three.
Ethan Thompson has taken the mantle with the departure of Tres Tinkle, leading the Oregon State in 14 of the 20 games it has played this season. The senior guard is averaging 15.7 points and 3.6 rebounds to go with a team-high 3.8 assists. Lucas is other Beaver averaging in double-figures, checking in with 12.7 points per game with a .412 shooting clip from downtown. His 91-percent shooting from the free-throw line is ninth-best in the country. Junior Warith Alatishe has been a force on the boards for OSU, averaging 8.6 points to go with his 8.2 boards to per game – which is good for second-most in Pac-12 play. Alatishe also leads the team with a .463 shooting clip, 33 blocks and 24 steals.
As a team, Oregon State has long three of their last five – including three-straight on the road. The Beavers have done much better at home in league play with a 5-2 mark inside Gill Coliseum while going just 1-6 on the road this season in Pac-12 action. In addition to Lucas' shooting threat, Thompson, Zach Reichle, Gianni Hunt and Maurice Calloo can also knock them down from beyond the arc with all four recording 14-plus treys in conference play.
LAST TIME OUT
An early hot start for Utah faded deep into the first half that saw Stanford swing in its favor wound up too much to overcome for the Utes in the second half as it fell to the Cardinal 73-66 despite a late push. Timmy Allen led the Utes with 18 points and eight rebounds while Branded Carlson notched his second double-double of the year with 12 points and a career-high 11 rebounds in the loss. Alfonso Plummer added 14 points in his second-straight start with Rylan Jones out with a shoulder injury.
Utah wraps up the four-game road swing with a 7 p.m. (MT) meeting against the Oregon Ducks on Saturday, Feb. 20, on Pac-12 Networks inside Matthew Knight Arena. The Utes have only swept the Oregon road swing once in seven tries since joining the league in 2011-12.
The Utes will have played three games in five days as it faces Oregon State less than 48 hours after returning home from the PNW road swing, this time inside the Jon M. Huntsman Center to, for now, start a three-game homestand that would wrap up the regular-season unless its two games against Arizona State get made up. Utah and Oregon State battle it out at 5 p.m. (MT) on ESPN2 on Monday, Feb. 22.