After a strong showing in their first road trip of the conference season, the Runnin’ Utes return to the Huntsman Center for a home-stand against the Washington schools.
Utah(7-7, 1-1) takes on defensive juggernaut Washington(10-4, 1-0) in Salt Lake City at 8p.m. MT. Utah comes into the meeting having split their conference schedule thus far. The Utes knocked off Pac-12 best ASU before losing to Arizona in OT on Saturday. The two close contests exceeded expectations for Utah after their sluggish non-conference start. The start of the conference season was an opportunity for the Utes to “wipe the slate clean” and “hit the reset button,” head coach Larry Krystkowiak said. It seemed to be the jumpstart the bunch needed, especially for Sedrick Barefield and Donnie Tillman – Each of whom had struggled to find their shot early in the season but opened conference play with two straight outings of 20 or more points.
The Huskies enter the Jon M. Huntsman Center on a roll. Winners of their last three, UW has asserted their defensive dominance in the new year by allowing just 61 points-per- contest during their current winning streak. Led by do-it-all combo guard Jaylen Nowell and shutdown defender Matisse Thybulle, the Huskies will be the favorites on Thursday night.
History, however, isn’t on UW’s side. Utah has had the Huskies number for quite some time now, leading the head-to-head series 15-9 and winning 9 of the last 10 meetings between the two. Going for their seventh straight win over Washington, the Runnin’ Utes will hope to avoid their first loss in the series since March 7, 2015.
– My ‘major key’ for the Runnin’ Utes tonight: the three point shot. Utah has lived by the three and died by the three much of this season but this will especially be true tonight. Matching up with UW Cuse-like 2-3 zone is tricky, the best answer for it being proficient outside shooting and ball movement.
Tipping off at 8p.m., you can listen to the game exclusively on ESPN700 with pregame coverage starting at 6. FS1 will carry the game on television and you can follow along with #UWvs UTAH.
According to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, the visiting Huskies have a 56.3% chance of leaving victorious. The over-under is set at 141.5.
Following Thursday night’s tilt, the Runnin’ Utes will turn their attention toward Washington State for a Saturday night special set to tip-off at the Huntsman Center around 6p.m.
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