Utah Utes (9-3)
- Latest BTD Pac-12 Power Rankings: 8th Overall (7-3)
- Head Coach: Larry Krystkowiak (7th Season)
- Top Performer: David Collette (13.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG)
- Points For: 76.5 PPG (T-143rd)
- Points Against: 66.9 PPG (T-71st)
- Last Game/Streak: 66-56 Win at Oregon (2W)
New Year’s Eve may usually be a day reserved for celebrations and parties, but there will be a different kind of fireworks going off on Sunday afternoon at Gill Coliseum, when Utah storms into Corvallis, hopeful to keep their hot start to the opening weekend of Pac-12 play going in the right direction.
In a bit of surprising fashion, the Utes that took care of Oregon on Friday in Eugene, despite a slow overall start by the team in the contest. For Oregon State, their conference opener was a bit more one-sided, as the Beavers never relinquished a half-time lead over Colorado, en route to their first league win as well.
Now, it’ll come down a battle of two squads both trending upward, as the first signs of the potential conference picture begin to work themselves out.
If there’s a featured match-up to watch heading into this clash between the Utes and the Beavers, it has to be on the interior between Utah big men David Collette (13.3 PPG) and Tyler Rawson (11.5 PPG) and Oregon State’s front-court duo of Tres Tinkle and Drew Eubanks. While the Utes’ towering forces may stand a few inches to the better than the Beavers combination, the contrast of Tinkle and Eubanks’ more mobile style and Collette’s more conventional post-work will be intriguing.
In actuality though, the focus of energy on the interior could bring this contest to a potentially more perimeter-oriented game.
With both teams try to limit the touches inside, expect Utah’s lead guard in Justin Bibbins (12.7 PPG) and his running mate in Sedrick Barefield (10.7 PPG) to try and out-duel what has been a lethal Thompson brothers combination lately.
In Oregon State’s victory over the Buffs, Stephen Jr. and Ethan combined for 38 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists and 6 steals.
While it’s a bit too early in the conference season to tell just how authentic both Utah and Oregon State’s opening night wins were, it’ll all be settled come game-time on Sunday. And for even more on this match-up, be sure to check out our Q&A with Block U, which will be posted thirty minutes later than the published time on this article.
Players To Watch
David Collette (SR - Forward): A one-time Utah State transfer who jumped across the state to grow and develop under Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak, David Collette has slowly worked himself into a potential NBA prospect with his steady and imposing abilities. Standing at 6’ 10”, 230 pounds with a very hard-to-guard post game, it’ll be interesting to see what looks Oregon State throws at Collette on Sunday.
Justin Bibbins (GR - Guard): Another transfer into this Utes program, Justin Bibbins joined Utah via Long Beach State, where the sub-six footer was one of the best overall talents in the Big West Conference. A guard who usually likes to operate with the ball in his hands, Bibbins has stepped up his game by connecting on twelve three-pointers in his last two contests, which were both Utah victories. If he has another hot night from the field, expect it to be a rough time for the Beavers.
Tyler Rawson (SR - Forward): Maybe not as proven of a talent as Collette or Bibbins are, Tyler Rawson is one of those players who seemingly continues to get better every time he takes the floor. The biggest difference in Collette’s and Rawson’s games are really the latter’s ability to step away from the basket and operate comfortably on the perimeter as a somewhat oversized wing player at times. And to add to the perfect fit he’s found at Utah, Rawson also started his career elsewhere, as a former Southern Utah transfer.
- Date: Sunday, December 31st
- Time: 3:00 PM PT
- Location: Gill Coliseum (Corvallis, OR)
- Coverage: Pac-12 Network