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Know The Enemy: Utah

Utah is a half-game behind UCLA in the Pac-12. Oregon State in 0-8. You can imagine how this one might go.

NCAA Basketball: UCLA at Utah Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Utah Utes (14-6)

  • Latest BTD Pac-12 Power Rankings: 5th Overall (5-3)
  • Head Coach: Larry Krystkowiak (6th Season)
  • Top Performer: Kyle Kuzma (15.4 PPG, 9.9 RPG)
  • Points For: 80.9 PPG (T-38th)
  • Points Against: 6.66 PPG (58th)
  • Last Game/Streak: 73-67 Loss v. #10 Oregon (1L)

The Skinny

If a road loss to a Colorado team that previously hadn’t won a Pac-12 game wasn’t bad enough, a follow-up trip to the Beehive State likely won’t work any wonders for an Oregon State group who by the day, is losing more and more morale and beginning to slowly fall apart. For what started as a season with ambitious expectations following a promising 2016-2017 campaign, has now become the slow-churn of a failing roster that can’t seem to find their way. There’s no way around it, this season can’t end quick enough for Beaver Nation.

However, if Oregon State does want to “shock the world” and snag a monumental upset on Saturday night in Salt Lake City, they’ll need someone besides the duo of forward Drew Eubanks and guard Stephen Thompson Jr. to step up and attempt to carry this Beavers team through their increasingly regular offensive lulls. They’ll also need to have a strong game-plan to slow down Utah’s daunting interior duo of 6’ 9” Kyle Kuzma (15.4 PPG) and 6’ 8” David Collette (14.4 PPG).

Kuzma is the heart-and-soul of the Utes, who under head coach Larry Krystkowiak, are always a team centered around their front-court’s abilities. While Kuzma may be the star of the show, Collette is a unique developing talent who seems to be improving by the week. Combine that duo with a litany of talented guards that include Lorenzo Bonam (13.5 PPG), Devon Daniels (11.5 PPG) and SMU transfer Sedrick Barefield (11.3 PPG) and Utah has exactly the mix that Oregon State doesn’t like to see. Deep, balanced and methodical in their style of play, there’s real potential here for the Utes to pick apart the Beavers at will.

What can change that? Just like how a team’s defense can be their best offense, it’s been visible at times this season (especially during the Colorado game) that Oregon State’s offense is actually their best defense and when the Beavers are rolling offensively, the overall energy and focus of this group seems to change. Oregon State needs to find a few more scorers to carry the load but if they can pick their spots against Utah, they could go on the type of runs that rattle a heavily-favorite home team. More than anything though, Wayne Tinkle’s guys must value the basketball and give themselves a fighting chance in this one.

Players To Watch

Kyle Kuzma (Junior - Forward)

Everything about this Utah group starts and ends with Kuzma, who is not only the team’s best talent, but also their biggest energy player. A force in the paint, Kozma’s mix of toughness and talent will have Oregon State showing him serious attention all night. This one could be a Drew Eubanks-Kyle Kozma type of back-and-forth night.

Lorenzo Bonam (Senior - Guard)

Steady as ever, for whatever energy plays that forward Kyle Kuzma makes, guard Lorenzo Bonam isn’t too far behind him bringing in all the intangibles of what every veteran guard should be. Anytime a run needs to be broken or a defensive stop needs to be made, Bonam is right there in the thick of things.

Sedrick Barefield (Sophomore - Guard)

A transfer from SMU, Barefield’s insertion into the line-up has been more crucial than expected for this Utah squad, who likely didn’t realize the caliber of player they were getting from the Mustangs. Barefield played sparingly under head coach Larry Brown and now is excelling in his new role in Salt Lake City, a remarkable turnaround for a transfer without a season to acclimate himself.

Game Info

Date: Saturday, January 28th
Time: 4:00 PM PT
Location: Jon M. Huntsman Center (Salt Lake City, UT)
Coverage: Pac-12 Network