Date: Wednesday, 2/20/19
Tip-Off Time: 8:00 pm PT
Radio: KOMO 1000 AM/97.7 FM and TuneIn
Location: Seattle, Washington
Betting Line: Washington -8
Utah 2018-19 Statistics:
Record: 14-11 (8-5)
Points For per Game: 76.6 (72nd)
Points Against per Game: 75.1 (247th)
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 114.9 (22nd)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 109.4 (272nd)
Strength of Schedule: +4.62 (68th)
Utah Key Players:
C-Jayce Johnson, Jr. 7’0, 235: 7.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.0 bpg, 59.8% FG, 43.2% FT
A flip has been switched in conference play for Johnson as he’s 2nd in OR% and 3rd in DR% in Pac-12 play while cutting down on his turnovers. He led Utah in scoring with 12 points in the first meeting with the Huskies and he will cause UW serious problems on the offensive glass again. Expect a lot of Sam Timmins in this one to counter Johnson’s size/strength.
F- Donnie Tillman, So. 6’7, 225: 10.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.5 apg, 43.1% FG, 35.1% 3pt, 77.6% FT
Tillman is a really good player although he has had some recent struggles as he has only cracked double digits points twice in the last seven games after accomplishing that feat in six of the previous seven. However, he’s shooting 41% on 3-pointers in conference play and can absolutely make Washington pay stretching out the zone.
F- Timmy Allen, Fr. 6’6, 210: 11.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.3 apg, 59.2% FG, 72.5% FT
Part of Tillman’s drop off has been due to Allen’s rise as he continues to take on responsibility for Utah and looks like a future all-conference player. Allen is almost exclusively a post player at 6’6 and is making 63% of his shots in conference play. He saw a lot of time in the high post in the first matchup and while he only had 7 points he did have 11 rebounds and 5 assists and so figures to be an integral part of Utah’s gameplan.
G- Parker Van Dyke, Sr. 6’3, 185: 8.1 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 1.6 apg, 45.5% FG, 42.7% 3pt, 77.8% FT
Van Dyke is the kind of player who can struggle with Washington’s length extending out in the zone. He’s a 3-pt sniper shooting 43.6% from deep in conference play but was just 1 of 7 against UW the first time around and is 6 of 22 overall in 3 games against Hop’s zone. He also shoots an incredible 73% on corner 3’s so Jaylen Nowell and Dominic Green have to make Van Dyke a priority when he’s in the corner and can’t allow him space to get a shot off.
G- Sedrick Barefield, Sr. 6’2, 190: 16.2 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 4.0 apg, 40.6% FG, 38.9% 3pt, 85.1% FT
Barefield is the engine for Utah’s offense as a the primary ball handler who is capable of making shots at every level of the defense. He really struggled against UW in SLC going 2/10 from the floor for 6 points. The only two times Barefield has played 30+ minutes with single digits points were against UW and Kentucky and the Husky game is the only one in his past 16 contests where he didn’t clear that bar.
2018-19 Utah Shot Chart
Utah has had one of the most efficient offenses in the country and that’s because they don’t take a lot of long 2’s and are great in the paint. This is a tall Utah team that is best when they’re getting the ball inside for put back opportunities or driving and kicking to wide open shooters.
The Utah team that Washington played in SLC in the 2nd game of Pac-12 play doesn’t seem to resemble who they’ve been against the rest of the conference. The Utes were just 6 of 30 (20%) from 3-point range in that game and one of them went in with 2 seconds left and the Huskies up by 19. They’ve shot 41% from deep against the rest of the conference and have now taken a substantial lead as the most efficient Pac-12 offense in conference play. It seems reasonable to think that Utah is going to have a better shooting night than they did in the first meeting but then again the game will be on the road this time around.
The Utes have been able to make shots from just about everywhere on the floor but given UW’s length on the perimeter relative to inside I think Coach Hop would prefer if Utah takes half of their attempts from 3-point range again. Deep shots lead to long rebounds and Utah’s advantage on the offensive glass gets negated when they aren’t able to immediately go up and try for a put back opportunity.
As you would expect for a so-so team with a fantastic offense, the Utah defense is flat out not good although they’ve been better in Pac-12 play than they were earlier in the season. The only area where you could say that the Utes are above average on that end of the court is in preventing offensive rebounds. Otherwise, opponents have shot better than 50% from inside the arc and 35% from deep. That combined with the inability to get turnovers had made it tough to get many stops.
In the first meeting Jaylen Nowell was effectively neutralized on one of the worst shooting performances of his career. Nowell was 0/7 on shots 5 feet or longer and the midrange pull-up/floater/runner game just was not working. We’ll see if the coaching staff feels that was due to just an off night by Jaylen or if the Utah defense really forced him to have that poor of a game and thus an adjustment is needed. David Crisp was the primary force early in that game going 5 of 7 from deep. But he injured his shoulder against Arizona State and has shot 30% from 3-pt range in the last 2 games compared to nearly 50% in conference games before that.
Utah has really gelled as the season has gone on which is not surprising since I still feel that Larry Krystkowiak is one of the two best non-UW coaches in the conference. This is the least talented Utah team in 5+ years and yet they’ll still likely finish above 0.500 in the conference. The Huskies have had 3 bad defensive halves in their last 4. Utah is absolutely capable of making it 5 of 6 but the hope is that coming back home will rejuvenate the team a little bit.
Washington is undefeated at home this season. Their final 6 games include 4 home games and a road game against the worst power conference team in the country. This is put up or shut up time. Anything worse than a 5-1 record is unacceptable if this team really has Sweet 16 aspirations. It’s time to get it done.
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