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Utah Game Preview & How to Watch

Washington tries to extend its winning streak to 4 games while on the back half of the tough Mountain road trip

NCAA Basketball: PAC-12 Conference Tournament-Utah vs Washington Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

How to Watch (and bet)

Date: Saturday, 1/21/23

Tip-Off Time: 5:00 pm PT

TV: Pac-12 Networks


Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

DraftKings Betting Line: Washington Huskies +8


Utah Utes 2022-23 Statistics:

Record: 13-7 (6-3)

Points For per Game: 71.2 (153rd)

Points Against per Game: 62.4 (22nd)

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 107.6 (103rd)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 94.4 (27th)

Strength of Schedule: 83rd


Utah’s Key Players:

G- Rollie Worster, So. 6’4, 202: 9.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.8 apg, 43.8% FG, 25.5% 3pt, 84.2% FT

In his 2nd year with Utah Worster has taken another step as a playmaker and is one of the conference leaders in assists. The outside shooting is still an adventure though as he’s sub-30% for his career and under 25% in Pac-12 play so far. Washington can sag off him a little as a shooting threat but Worster can get the ball where it needs to in order to set up teammates and cut to the basket when he is playing off the ball.

G- Gabe Madsen, Jr. 6’6, 200: 11.9 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.9 apg, 35.1% FG, 37.5% 3pt, 78.2% FT

This is also Madsen’s 2nd year in Utah after transferring and he has stepped into a starting role without losing much. He’s a 3-pt sniper that is going to try about 2/3rds of his attempts from that range and really struggles to score both around the basket and in the midrange. The zone will have to extend whenever Madsen has the ball but he’s not much of a threat to drive against a hard closeout.

G-Lazar Stefanovich, So. 6’7, 191: 9.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.3 apg, 38.5% FG, 36.0% 3pt, 89.2% FT

Coming over from Serbia Stefanovic is playing much better as a sophomore. He’s showing some passing ability in addition to being nearly automatic from the 3-pt line and has made strides on his 3-point shot. For someone who’s 6’7 he’s allergic to rebounding the ball but his steal numbers are way up this season as he’s figuring out how to use his length. Funnily enough , on Kenpom one of Stefanovich’s freshman year comps was Dominic Green and one of his this year comps is Noah Williams last year.

F- Marco Anthony, Sr. 6’6, 225: 10.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.3 apg, 52.0% FG, 63.1% FT

Utah has good size except at the PF spot where Anthony likes to be an undersized 4. It’s interesting that he has essentially stopped 3-pointers entirely and has made piece with just being a deadly midrange shooter. He has the ability to kill UW’s zone all night if they let him hang out at the free throw line unchecked. He’s also a very good offensive rebounder which is helped by hanging out almost exclusively in the paint. Last year he had games of 10 pts, 13 reb, 4 ast and 13 pts, 9 reb, 2 ast against the Huskies.

C- Branden Carlson, Sr. 7’0, 228: 16.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.3 bpg, 56.9% FG, 43.5% 3pt, 74.2% FT

Carlson is a 4-year starter for Utah and he’s just progressively gotten better and is now in competition with Arizona’s Oumar Ballo for the best center in the conference. On offense he plays more of a stretch 5 role and is shooting over 40% on 3’s while also shooting a career high 62% on 2’s. If he gets the ball in the paint it’s over but if you leave him open on the perimeter he’ll also knock it down. On defense he continues to be a great shot blocker and has a career high defensive rebounding rate as well. He eviscerated Wazzu 2 nights ago with 28 points on just 12 shots.


The Outlook

The 2nd year under Craig Smith has been a tremendous success so far considering expectations for this squad were low coming off a 4-16 season in Pac-12 play. The Utes surpassed that early with a 5-0 conference start before settling in at 6-3 once the schedule got tougher. An early home loss to Sam Houston State it turns out wasn’t that bad now that the Bearkats are 14-5 and the highest rated team in the WAC.

It has been all about the defense so far for Utah. The Utes are the 8th tallest team in the country with zero players in their rotation under 6’4 right now with an injury to Mike Saunders. They use that length to play disciplined defense and still be in a position to challenge shots. Utah is top-10 in the country in both opponent 2pt% and opponent 3pt% on defense. No team has scored more than 75 points on them so far.

The other part of the “stay in front of you” style of defense is that it doesn’t lead to getting into the passing lanes. Utah forces missed shots but they’re just 328th in forcing turnovers. That is good news for a Washington team that had 22 of them on Thursday against Colorado. If trends hold then you can expect UW to shoot poorly from the field but they should be a little better at getting a shot off in the first place and not giving up transition looks.

The offense is best described as mediocre. The Utes rank between 119th and 193rd nationally in just about every major offensive statistic. They share the ball well which is a key against Washington’s zone but other than that they’re neither very good or very bad at anything.

When Brandon Carlsen has it going like he has lately then he’s just about unstoppable. In his last 2 games he’s averaging 24.5 pts, 8.5 reb, 3 ast, 2.5 blk on 13/15 2pt shooting and 6/9 3pt shooting. Not too shabby. If he plays like that then the Huskies probably aren’t winning. Braxton Meah has to find a way to play even against Carlson inside even though obviously he won’t be responsible for following Carlson out to the 3-pt line on defense with UW in their zone.

Utah is able to put together a solid lineup of shooters on the perimeter with Madsen, Stefanovic, and Madsen but their PG is a non-shooter and their PF has stopped attempting 3’s entirely. That leaves them with a solid amount of floor spacing but still just short of what they’d need to be a truly dynamic offense.

If the Huskies win this game it’s going to be because they were able to get Carlson in foul trouble early, adjust the zone to cover Anthony at the free throw line, and avoid idiotic turnovers against a defense that won’t force many of them. I was doubtful that Washington could pull it off against Colorado but that was at least a better matchup. I think Utah matches up better against the Huskies and don’t think we can say UW has turned it around enough for them to win consecutive road games. But compared to 10 days ago it at least seems plausible rather than impossible which is progress.


Max’s Record this Year: 15-5 Straight Up, 11-8-1 Against The Spread

Washington Huskies- 59, Utah Utes- 69