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Runnin’ Utes to visit Boulder for pivotal matchup with CU

With Pac-12 Tournament seeding implications on the line, Utah visits Colorado(16-11/7-8) for their final road test of the regular season(Saturday, March 2, 2019 • 4 p.m. MT • ESPN700 / ESPNU).

The Runnin’ Utes(15-12/9-6) currently sit in a tie with Oregon State for third place in the conference standings. With three regular season games remaining, Utah controls their own destiny. They can ensure a first-round bye by winning out. That’s easier said than done, though.

Utah visits the CU Events Center as the Buffaloes have won three straight home bouts. Colorado has won 5 of their last 7 total games with the two losses coming on the tough Washington road swing. A huge part of their improved late-season play is the return of their leader, point guard McKinley Wright. Wright was unavailable for the Buffs first contest against the Utes, a 78-69 Utah win. His absence was obvious as Colorado looked discombobulated and unorganized. With Wright in the lineup and CU at home, Utah will surely need a better performance for a win this time around. A win that head coach Larry Krystkowiak knows would be a big one.

“Getting into the top four has been a goal of ours throughout the season,” Krystkowiak said. “We know how difficult it is to win four straight games down there in Vegas and that first-round bye is a big benefit. A win up in Boulder would go a long ways to making that a reality. Obviously we’d still have more work to do, but returning home to finish off the season after a quality road win would be a major boost.”

Game Notes per Utah Athletics:

FAST BREAKS
• Utah will play its final true road game of the regular season
when the team heads to Boulder to face the Colorado Buffaloes
this Saturday, March 2.
• Tip-off between the Utes and Buffs is set for 4 p.m. MT at CU
Events Center.
• Utah is coming off a 92-79 win at Washington State this past
Saturday, while Colorado dropped a road contest to Washington,
64-55.
• Utah scored 90+ points in a Pac-12 game for the third time
this season, tying the school record for most 90-point games in
Pac-12 play. The previous mark was set in the 2015-16 season.
• Utah drained 16 three-pointers in the win at Washington State on Saturday, marking the third time this season that the Utes have sank at least 16 three-pointers in a game. Utah matched the school’s all-time team game record with 17 three’s against Mississippi Valley State back on Nov. 15.

THE GAME

Utah (15-12, 9-6 Pac-12) will hit the road one last time during the 2018-19 regular season, as the team heads East to face the Colorado Buffaloes (16-11, 7-8) this Saturday, March 2, in Boulder. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. MT at CU Events Center.

COVERING THE RUNNIN’ UTES

Saturday’s contest will air on the Utah Athletics Radio Network (ESPN 700 AM) with Bill Riley and Jimmy Soto announcing. The game will be televised on ESPNU, with Eric Rothman calling play-by-play and Adrian Branch serving as the color analyst.

SCOUTING COLORADO

Colorado is coming off a pair of losses through the Pacific Northwest, falling to Washington State (76-74) last Wednesday and then dropping Saturday’s contest to Washington (64-55). Prior to the losses, the Buffs had won five straight, which included home wins against Oregon, Arizona and Arizona State, along with a road sweep at UCLA and USC. At 7-8 in the Pac-12 standings, Colorado is currently in a tie for seventh place with Arizona and Stanford.

The Buffs have four players averaging double figures, with McKinley Wright leading the way at 13.2 points per game. He is followed by Tyler Bey (12.6), Lucas Siewert (10.6) and Shane Gatling (10.3). Bey leads the team on the boards with 9.4 rebounds per game, which also ranks second in the conference. Wright leads all players with 131 assists and a 5.0 assists per game average. Gatling has knocked down a team-best 49 three-pointers on the season, but Siewert is shooting a team-high .379 from beyond the arc.

The Buffs are scoring 74.3 points on the offensive side of the ball, while giving up 68.7 points to opposing squads. Colorado shoots .459 from the field as a team, while giving up just .435 to opponents. The Buffs are shooting .324 from three-point range and give up the exact same percentage, which ranks second in the Pac-12. The Buffs also rank among the top-three in the league with a .736 free throw shooting percentage.

UTAH VS. COLORADO SERIES HISTORY

Utah got the best of the Buffs the first time these two teams met back on Jan. 20, with Utes winning 78-69 in Salt Lake City. With the win, Utah moved to 23-27 all-time and 15-8 overall in games played in Salt Lake City. The Utes have won two straight and nine of the last 10 meetings. Utah’s lone loss in the previous 10 games was a 67-55 defeat to the Buffs in Boulder last season. Prior to the defeat, Utah had won three straight at CU Events Center and head into Saturday’s contest with a 7-18 overall record against the Buffs in Boulder. Four of the past seven meetings overall have been decided by 10 points or less.

LAST TIME THE UTES AND BUFFS MET

It was a tale of two different halves the last time Utah and Colorado met, as the Utes opened the contest with a 21-7 run and led 41-19 at the break, and despite coming away with a nine-point victory, the Buffs managed to outscore the Utes 50- 37 in the second period.

Utah shot 44.8 percent from the field and limited CU to just a 30 percent effort, but the Buffs bounced back with a 50 percent effort from both the field overall and a 50 percent effort from three-point range.

Sedrick Barefield led the way for the Utes scoring 22 points and Timmy Allen followed with a 21-point effort. Allen also pulled down 10 boards for the first double-double of his career.

Shane Gatling scored 21 Buffs, who were without their leading scorer in the game, McKinley Wright.

— For more Runnin’ Utes content, visit ESPN700SPORTS.COM, follow @ESPN700 on Twitter and tune in on 700AM using your conventional radio, the mobile app or through this site. —


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