Utah at Washington
When: 4:30 PM ET, Saturday, March 7, 2015
Where: Alaska Airlines Arena, Seattle, Washington
Coming off a home loss to Arizona and a late come-from-behind
win at Washington State, No. 13 Utah isn’t exactly
peaking heading into Saturday’s regular-season finale at Washington. But Utes
coach Larry Krystkowiak did take a step back to gain some perspective after his
team overcame a six-point deficit with 7:34 remaining Thursday to escape with a
67-59 victory over the Cougars. “I was a little bit of a pessimist on the bench
at the end of the game – I thought, ‘I’m not sure if we deserve this one,’ ” Krystkowiak
told the Salt Lake Tribune. “Our assistants reminded me: It’s March. It’s hard.
Things are a grind, and it makes a difference to be able to close out a game
Washington also is struggling down the stretch,
but unlike Utah, it’s most definitely reflected in the standings as the Huskies
have dipped to 11th in the Pac-12 with 10 losses in their last
11 games. The last six setbacks have all been by double digits, including
Thursday’s 64-47 loss to visiting Colorado in which the hosts shot 30.5 percent
from the floor, including 7-of-24 from 3-point range. “We just couldn't consistently put the ball
in the basket, even when we made our runs,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar told
TV: 4:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
ABOUT UTAH (23-6, 13-4 Pac-12): The Utes need the
win to hold off Oregon (13-5) for the second seed in next week’s Pac-12
Tournament with the Ducks owning the head-to-head tiebreaker. Regardless, Utah
likely boasts the Pac-12 Player of the Year in senior guard Delon Wright,
who’s pacing the team with 14.4 points and 5.4 assists per game and is
finishing with a flourish, averaging 16.8 points, five rebounds and 5.5 assists
over his last four outings. Brandon Taylor (10.4 points), Jordan Loveridge
(10.2) and freshman Jakob Poeltl (8.2 points, team-most 7.0 rebounds) are the
other primary offensive weapons for Utah, which leads the conference in 3-point
shooting (40.2 percent), scoring defense (55.9 points) field-goal percentage
defense (37.6) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3).
ABOUT WASHINGTON (15-14, 4-13): The Huskies are
not only losing games, they’re losing players as well with Shawn Kemp Jr. missing
the last three contests with a concussion and a strained calf and key reserve Donaven Dorsey sitting
out Thursday with a turf-toe injury. Both are listed as doubtful Saturday,
meaning Washington will likely have to give it a go again with only seven
healthy scholarship players. Co-captains Nigel Williams-Goss (15.1 points) and
Andrew Andrews (14.7) are pacing the team in scoring and are shouldering a
greater share of the load of late, scoring or assisting on 82 percent of
the Huskies’ points over the last four games.
1. Utah owns a 4-2 series lead since joining the
Pac-12 in 2011, including a 77-56 home victory Jan. 25 in which the Utes shot 53.8
percent from the floor, including 11-of-18 3-pointers.
2. Washington is 18-11 versus ranked opponents at
home since Romar took over in 2002.
3. The Utes could again be without reserve G Kenneth Ogbe (groin), who's been held out of the team's last two games.
PREDICTION: Utah 74, Washington 62
Stats and Records