Men's Basketball Opens Pac-12 Play in Los Angeles Against #20/18 USC
SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah men's basketball team heads off to its first true road game this week as the Runnin' Utes take on #20/18 USC inside the Galen Center on Wednesday, Dec. 1, at 9:30 p.m. (MT).
Roxy Bernstein will have the call as Utah head men's basketball coach Craig Smith makes his Pac-12 debut while Don MacLean serves as the analyst in the 49th all-time meeting between the Trojans and Utes on Pac-12 Networks.
In addition to the Black Friday/Cyber Monday Conference Pack deal for men's basketball, Utah fans that attend the women's basketball game against BYU this Saturday, Dec. 4, will receive half-price tickets to the men's basketball game against Cal on Sunday, Dec., 5, at 3 p.m. (MT) with their ticket stub (physical or digital).
In addition, the Pac-12 home-opener against Cal will serve as the Faculty & Staff Appreciation game. All University of Utah faculty and staff members receive a free ticket with their UID.
????Black Friday Pac-12 Conference Pack????
Just $59 and includes all 9?? conference games!
— Utah Basketball (@UtahMBB) November 26, 2021
IN THE CONFERENCE OF CHAMPIONS
Heading into its 11th season as a member of the Pac-12, Utah is 6-4 all-time in conference openers. Utah has opened conference play against USC once, a 79-55 victory for the Utes at home on Jan. 2, 2015.
Since joining the league, Utah is 2-3 all-time when opening league play on the road and won its last two league openers on the road against Oregon (2017-18) and Arizona State (2018-19). Overall, Utah is 91-90 all-time in Pac-12 play and looks to reach the 100-win mark this season with the full league slate beginning the end of December.
Early Pac-12 Games (20 Conference Games)
2020-21: vs. Washington (W, 76-62) and vs. Arizona State (W, 98-59)*
*Played on 3/6/21 (Rescheduled due to COVID-19)
Swept Conference Opener (2 games)
2014-15: vs. USC (79-55) and UCLA (71-39)
2017-18: at Oregon (66-56) and at Oregon State (66-64)
Got Swept in Conference Opener (2 games)
2012-13: at Arizona State (55-54 OT) and at #3 Arizona (60-57)
2015-16: at Stanford (70-68 OT) and at California (71-58)
Split Conference Opener (2 games)
2013-14: vs. #10 Oregon (L, 70-68 OT) and vs. Oregon State (W, 80-69)
2018-19: vs. Arizona State (W, 96-86) and vs. Arizona (L, 84-81 OT)
2019-20: vs. Oregon State (W, 81-69) and vs. #4/6 Oregon (L, 69-64)
SCOUTING THE TROJANS
No. 20/18 USC enters this week's match-up against Utah with a 6-0 mark thanks to its nine returners from last year's Elite Eight run in the NCAA Tournament. Like the Utes, the Trojans won their MTE Tournament, capturing the Paycom Wooden Legacy Championship over Thanksgiving weekend with wins over Saint Joseph's and a solid San Diego State team in the title game.
Memphis transfer Boogie Ellis leads USC in the scoring column averaging 14.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists with a .532 shooting clip. Chevez Goodwin has stepped up his production from last season, averaging 13.2 points and 7.5 rebounds with a team-high .673 (37-of-55) shooting clip. Isaiah Mobley also returns to lead the Trojans on the glass with 9.2 rebounds per game to go with his 12.2 points per game while also shooting .364 from deep. Drew Peterson, another returner from last year's squad, is averaging 9.2 points and 5.0 rebounds with a team-high 25 assists.
Nationally, USC is ranked in several statistical categories – including turnovers per game (5th, 8.7), assist to turnover ratio (6th, 1.92), defensive rebounds per game (7th, 31.67), defensive field-goal percentage (7th, 34.4), defensive 3-point field-goal percentage (11th, .248), rebounds per game (15th, 43.67) and scoring margin (20th, 19.8).
LAST TIME OUT
Last week's Utah rivalry showdown in the Jon M. Huntsman Center was everything fans had hoped for as both squads battled down to the end before the team down south pulled away late as time ran out for the Utes, 75-64.
Utah's depth was challenged after losing Dusan Mahorcic in the opening minutes of the first half with an injury, but was able to head into the break with a narrow 29-27 lead. However, the Utes couldn't respond to BYU's run midway through the second half before falling in the 262nd meeting between the two programs.
Branden Carlson led the Utes with 17 points and six rebounds with three blocks while Rollie Worster chipped in with 13 points, six rebounds and five assists. Lazar Stefanovic tied his season-high for the second-consecutive game, scoring 12 points.
Utah wraps up its early Pac-12 games this Sunday, Dec. 5, when it welcomes in California for a 3 p.m. (MT) contest inside the Jon M. Huntsman Center. Todd Harris will have the call in SLC while Matt Muehlebach serves as the analyst in the Pac-12 Networks broadcast.
After completing the two early conference games, Utah resumes non-conference action with a 6 p.m. (MT) match-up against the Horned Frogs of TCU on Wednesday, Dec. 8, at Dickies Arena on ESPN+.
For the latest news and information on the Runnin' Utes men's basketball program, fans can stay connected online at www.UtahUtes.com and on social media by following @UtahMBB on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.