@UtahMBB Welcomes in #16 USC for Saturday Rematch
SALT LAKE CITY – After taking #9/9 UCLA to the brink Thursday night, the Utah men's basketball team now has another tough task at hand with #16/15 USC coming into town for a 4:30 p.m. (MT) match-up this Saturday, Jan. 22, inside the Jon M. Huntsman Center.
Todd Harris and Don MacLean have the call in the second meeting this season between the Runnin' Utes and Trojans on Pac-12 Networks, this time with the services of Dusan Mahorcic and Marco Anthony for Utah. The Utah Athletics Department will also being honoring the late Wat Misaka with an honored jersey ceremony at halftime.
STEFANOVIC STEPS UP
Freshman Lazar Stefanovic had a breakout game against #9/9 UCLA on Thursday going for a team-high 18 points on 4-7 from 3-point range – including some critical shots down the stretch. It was just the sixth time the Belgrade, Serbia, native has reach double figures in a game and third in Pac-12 action. Meanwhile, his 31:50 minutes of action is second-most this season after playing a season-high 33:28 minutes at Arizona State this past Monday.
LAST TIME OUT
Utah gave the ninth-ranked UCLA Bruins a fight down to the buzzer on Thursday, and at points led against the visiting Bruins before eventually falling 63-58. The Utes went toe-to-toe with last year's Final Four participant and answered each time against the Bruins with poise. Thursday's battle saw 10 lead changes and nine different ties – but none more important than the tie at 5:41 (51-51) and then the go-ahead pull-up jumper from UCLA's Tyger Campbell to give the Bruins the lead that it never relinquished.
Lazar Stefanovic led the Utes with 18 points on 4-of-7 from 3-point range for the best offensive output of his young career while Both Gach added 11 points, four rebounds and five assists. Jaxon Brenchley was a great spark off the bench for Utah and finished with a season-high eight points on 2-of-3 shooting and 3-of-3 from the line.
SCOUTING THE TROJANS
The Trojans enter this weekend's match-up 15-2 overall and 5-2 in Pac-12 play after sneaking past Colorado on Thursday 61-58 in Boulder. Like the Utah and UCLA game, USC's contest against the Buffs saw 13 lead changes and eight ties before the Trojans broke the tie with 2:18 left to play. USC had four players reach double-figures led by Chevez Goodwin – who had 14 points and 18 rebounds with three blocks.
Isaiah Mobley leads the Men of Troy averaging 15.1 points and 9.0 rebounds with a team-best 16 steals. Mobley also has 51 assists to his name, second-most on the team, to go with 17 blocks – which is also second-best. Goodwin is playing at an elite level, averaging 13.1 points, 7.7 rebounds with a white-hot .606 shooting clip – which is 10th-highest in the NCAA. Meanwhile, Memphis transfer Boogie Ellis is averaging 12.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists. Drew Peterson is the last Trojan to average double-digit points with 10.5 points per game and 5.7 rebounds per game.
As a team, USC is shooting an impressive .472 clip to go with a .345 clip from beyond the arc while holding opponents to just 63.2 points a game. The Trojans are holding opponents to just 37.1-percent shooting from the floor, which is fourth-best in the country while its 41.9 rebounding average is eighth-best in the nation.
Utah hits the road once again next week as it travels to The Palouse for a midweek match-up against Washington State on Wednesday, Jan. 26, for an 8 p.m. (MT) tip on Pac-12 Networks. It'll then have an extra day to prep for Washington before playing the Huskies on Saturday, Jan. 28, at 3 p.m. (MT) on Pac-12 Networks.
The Utes then return home to host the Oregon State and Oregon for a short homestand as they look to avenge losses to the Oregon schools on the road a month ago. Utah first welcomes in Oregon State for a7 p.m. (MT) tip-off in an ESPNU broadcast on Thursday, Feb. 3. The Utes then host the Oregon Ducks for a 6:30 p.m. contest on FS1 on Saturday, Feb. 5, as the program pays tribute to the great Tom Chambers with an honored jersey ceremony at halftime.
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.