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Utah Game Preview & How to Watch

Washington tries to pull out of a nosedive against a banged up Utah team

Washington v Utah

How to Watch (and bet)

Date: Saturday, 1/27/24

Tip-Off Time: 7:00 pm PT

TV: ESPN2

Streaming: Espn.com/watch

Radio: Huskies Gameday App, Sports Radio KJR

Location: Seattle, Washington

Betting Line: Washington Huskies -1

Utah Utes 2023-24 Statistics:

Record: 14-6 (5-4)

Points For per Game: 79.0 ppg (49th)

Points Against per Game: 70.1 ppg (114th)

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 117.5 (28th)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 100.1 (45th)

Strength of Schedule: 19th

Utah Key Players:

G- Rollie Worster, Sr. 6’4. 206: 9.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 5.5 apg, 40.9% FG, 27.6% 3pt, 70.5% FT

Since transferring in from Utah State, Worster has always struggled to shoot the ball. But he has taken yet another step as a floor general with a sky high assist rate and a career low turnover rate while drawing more fouls and getting more steals. Worster led the team in minutes played when these teams played the first time around but he has missed the last 4 games with a lower leg injury and is likely out again tonight

First Game Against UW: 14 pts, 6 reb, 5 ast, 1 TO

G- Cole Bajema, Sr. 6’7, 187: 9.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 0.8 apg, 42.5% FG, 39.8% 3pt, 77.3% FT

A familiar face for Husky fans. Bajema likely isn’t having many regrets about his decision to transfer so far. He is putting up almost an identical season to the one he had last year at Washington except he’s shooting a career best on 2-pointers so far (50%). Otherwise you know that he’s going to take a lot of 3’s and get the occasional steal or rebound and that’s his game. He has hit 44% on 3’s in Pac-12 play so far though which would be a career high if it keeps up through the 2nd half of the conference slate.

First Game Against UW: 11 pts, 1 reb, 2 TO, 3/7 3pt

G- Gabe Madsen, Sr. 6’6, 200: 13.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.3 apg, 48.0% FG, 43.6% 3pt, 75.0% FT

Meanwhile Madsen has become the player UW fans always wanted Bajema to become. He has been an absolute flamethrower from deep and has shot at least 33% from 3-point range in 16 of Utah’s 20 games. He had never shot better than 35% in his career on 2’s but is at 57% right now and it doesn’t look like it’s going to regress any time soon

First Game Against UW: 11 pts, 11 reb, 2 ast, 3/4 3pt

F- Ben Carlson, Jr. 6’9, 225: 6.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 0.4 apg, 46.4% FG, 36.0% 3pt, 73.1% FT

After transferring in from Wisconsin, Carlson has been essentially the definition of a perfectly adequate backup stretch power forward. He is a solid but not great three-point shooter. He can rebound the ball at a solid rate but doesn’t offer much in the way of rim protection. Most importantly though: he confuses everyone by having the same last name and first initial as Utah’s star player despite not being related.

First Game Against UW: 7 pts, 3 reb, 1 blk

F- Branden Carlson, Sr. 7’0, 225: 17.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.1 apg, 47.2% FG, 34.8% 3pt, 74.0% FT

For the first time in his career Carlson has seemingly plateaued in his production but he has done so at an all-conference 1st team level. He’s playing more power forward this year with the addition of Lovering (who is likely out tonight) and can knock down shots everywhere on the floor and will always be taller than the guy guarding him. Carlson was completely unstoppable last time against UW and almost single-handedly willed Utah to a victory in the 2nd half.

First Game Against UW: 32 pts, 7 reb, 7 ast, 0 TO, 14/23 FG

The Outlook

We’re halfway through the Pac-12 schedule which means that in many ways the season has become a war of attrition. Washington isn’t the same team without Franck Kepnang in the lineup and has never gotten projected star freshman Wesley Yates. At this point it will be a surprise if either returns to the lineup. Koren Johnson left Washington’s game against Colorado with what looked like a painful shoulder injury (his arm was hanging limp as he ran back to the locker room) and I don’t expect him to play tonight.

And yet somehow Utah is more banged up than that. Starting point guard Rollie Worster and starting center Lawson Lovering have both missed the last 4 games and there’s no indication that they will return tonight. Utah got a big spark from Georgia Tech transfer Deivon Smith after he became suddenly eligible following the ruling in the RaeQuan Battle lawsuit. Smith had averaged nearly a 10/5/5 stat line on 40% 3-pt shooting but suffered a lower leg injury on Wednesday night which looked serious enough to knock him out for a while.

We’ll see whether those injuries continue to compound for Utah especially against a badly struggling Husky squad. Utah lost by 22 points in Pullman on Wednesday night and is 0-4 on the road in conference play compared to 5-0 at home. In fact, Utah hasn’t won a game played outside Salt Lake City since November 27th. You’d like to think that will matter until remembering that Colorado was very much similar before they cut threw Washington’s defense as if they were tissue paper.

Utah’s offense certainly had no trouble with the Huskies on New Year’s Eve when they scored 95 points including a ridiculous 60 after halftime. Branden Carlson showed that there is absolutely no one on the Husky roster who can matchup with him. You would hope though that the coaching staff has learned something from the 2nd half when they went to him every single time and have figured out some way to at least force the ball out of his hands.

Utah’s offense is built on 3-point shooting with Bajema and Madsen on the wings plus capable shooting bigs in the B. Carlson bros. The big question is the guard spot where without Worster or Smith they may be relying on Hunter Erickson who is a career 29% 3-pt shooter and has 7 assists in Utah’s last 8 games.

Washington did pretty well against a so-so Utah defense scoring 90 of their own including a 15 and 6 from Wilhelm Breidenbach. It’s a big loss though if Koren Johnson can’t go since he had 17 points and 5 assists with no turnovers in that game.

You would certainly hope that the beatdown the Huskies experienced on Wednesday night would inspire them this time around. Washington held a 15-point lead in the first half against Utah before giving up on playing defense. Utah is missing their starting center and essentially their top-two point guards. If there’s any fight left in this Husky team then we need to see it tonight.

Prediction

My record this year: 14-6 Straight Up, 8-11-1 Against the Spread

Washington Huskies- 76, Utah Utes- 79