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Utah Utes Game Preview and Open Thread

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The Huskies hope for their first consecutive wins in conference play at home against Utah.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Date: Saturday, 1/18/16

Tip-Off Time: 5:00pm PST

TV: Pac-12 Networks

Radio: Komo 1000

Line: Utah -3

Utah Statistics:

Record: 13-5 (4-2)

Points For per Game: 80.0 ppg (42nd)

Points Against per Game: 68.5 ppg (85th)

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 112.7 (48th)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 97.2 (57th)

Utah Key Players:

F- Kyle Kuzma, Jr. 6-9, 225: 14.9ppg, 9.7rpg, 2.9apg, 47.9% FG, 66.2% FT, 26% 3pt

Emperor Kuzma has been one of the best players in the conference to this point, nearly averaging a double double. He'll attempt about two 3-pointers a game to keep the defense honest but anytime he takes a jumper, it's a win for the defense. He isn't going to block many shots for a center but he also almost never commits a foul so he has outstanding positioning.

F- David Collette, Jr. 6-8, 220: 14.9ppg, 5.9rpg, 1.2apg, 63.6% FG, 61.8% FT

Collette missed the Utes' first 9 games but has scored in double figures every game since returning. Like this entire Utes team, he is almost automatic in the paint but unlike the rest of the team he's content to stay there.

Edit: Collette will miss the game against Washington with concussion symptoms which recurred after he suffered an injury earlier in the month. Jayce Johnson will likely start. At 7-0 and 235 pounds, Johnson is a better rebounder but less of an offensive threat than Collette.

G- Devon Daniels, Fr. 6-5, 200: 10.8ppg, 4.7rpg, 2.4apg, 59.1% FG, 74% FT, 42.1% 3pt

Daniels was an unheralded 3-star recruit out of Michigan but he has been fantastic in a supporting role for Utah so far. With his percentages, he's one of the leaders in the nation in true shooting percentage although he only shoots once from beyond the arc per game.

G- JoJo Zamora, Jr. 6-2, 190: 9.5ppg, 1.8rpg, 1.3apg, 48.4% FG, 84.8% FT, 44.6% 3pt

Zamora is probably the best shooter on the team and one of only two Utes who takes 40% of his shots from deep. JoJo is only averaging 5 points per game in Utah losses so keeping him in check is a sign that Washington is doing its job.

G- Lorenzo Bonam, Sr. 6-4, 195: 13.2ppg, 3.6rpg, 2.8apg, 59.5% FG, 78.3% FT, 28% 3pt

Among all of the great inside threats on this Utah team, Bonam is somehow the scariest from the point guard position. Hopefully Fultz can slow Lorenzo down because he is shooting an unbelievable 73.9% on his 2-point attempts which is good for 6th in the country. He'll also take a couple three-pointers per game and any time he does it's good for Washington.

The Outlook

Despite losing Poetl the Turtle to the NBA draft, Utah is keeping with the same formula that was so successful last year and to great effect. Outside of a perplexing neutral site loss to San Francisco, the Utes' other 4 losses this year have all come to top-25 teams. Of their 13 wins, 10 of them have come by double digits. This is a very good basketball team coming off an absolute demolition of a 41 point win against Wazzu.

Utah's game plan is to get the ball inside and bludgeon you over the head with it until you die and then bludgeon you some more. The Utes are 13th in the country in percentage of their points scored on two-point baskets. Noah Dickerson and Matthew Atawe need to have the games of their life to contain the Utah attack. Not only that, but their guards are also fantastic at driving to the rim. If there's one bright spot for Washington, it's that Utah doesn't shoot the ball very much and so wide open 3's won't hurt as bad as they might against some other teams in the Pac. I fully expect the Dawgs to play a heavy amount of zone to guard against a team shooting 58.9% from inside.

On defense, Utah holds mostly the same philosophy that they do on offense. They'll pack the paint, force the opponent to shoot jumpers, and don't give up offensive boards and second chance points on misses. Theoretically, this plays into Washington's strength as the 18th ranked three-point shooting team in the country but UW is shooting just 33.3% from deep in conference play. Conversely, Utah has turned things around and opponents are shooting just 28.7% against them from beyond the arc in conference play.

This is not a good match-up for Washington. At this point, it's pretty clear that Sam Timmins is in way over his head and that UW has essentially two big men with Malik Dime out for another month. That is bad news against a team that will do nothing but drive into the paint for a full 40 minutes. The only hope I see for Washington is if Crisp, Green, and Fultz all catch fire from beyond the arc and the Dawgs shoot something like 14-27 from deep. Otherwise, there's no way they're able to keep pace with Utah's methodical beatdown. Even without the Turtle, I expect slow and steady to win the race.

Prediction

Washington Huskies- 70, Utah Utes- 79