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Oregon State Basketball: Utah Utes Preview (Game 13)

Conference play begins with a trip to Utah.

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Utah Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Utah Utes (9-3)

  • Head Coach: Larry Krystkowiak (9th Season)
  • Top Performer: Timmy Allen (21.0 PPG, 7.4 RPG)
  • Points For: 79.3 PPG (50th)
  • Points Against: 69.3 PPG (193rd)
  • Last Game/Streak: 80-52 Loss vs. San Diego State* (1L)

The Skinny

Never a fun road trip for any squad, Oregon State heads to battle Utah to tip-off the Pac-12 portion of their schedule on Thursday.

The Utes are a dangerous yet inconsistent group, who boast wins over Minnesota, BYU and Kentucky so far this season, while also banking losses to the likes of Coastal Carolina and Tulane. When it’s good, it’s been great for the Utes. When it’s bad, it’s been downright abysmal.

The one constant for Coach Larry K’s program has been star forward Timmy Allen (21.0 PPG), who is making a legitimate case for the league’s Player of the Year award. Just a sophomore, Allen has avoided the second-year slump by scoring at least 14 points and never grabbing less than 4 rebounds in every game this season.

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Utah
Sharpshooter Rylan Jones has been pleasant surprise for the Utes this season.
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Second-year wing Both Gach (11.6 PPG) and freshman guard Rylan Jones (11.1 PPG) are the only two other players to average double-figures for the Utes. They anchor a surprisingly strong Utah offense, that ranks in the Top 50 currently in scoring average, but is often letdown by a porous defense.

The other names to know for the Utes go on and on, with a cast of bigs (as always) including Riley Battin (9.8 PPG), Mikael Jantunen (6.8 PPG), Branden Carlson (6.1 PPG) and Lahat Thioune (2.3 PPG), who will all log at least 12 minutes per game.

It’s well known that Utah loves to force the game into the interior under Larry K and the key match-up in this one may be how the Utes’ stable of forwards deal with the versatility of Oregon State and the rim-protecting, shot-blocking ability of Kylor Kelley on interior.

Player To Watch

NCAA Basketball: Utah at Arizona State Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Both Gach (Forward - Sophomore)

The key indicator of Utah’s success, Both Gach has averaged 13.7 PPG for the Utes in their nine wins this season and just 5.3 PPG in their three losses. If there’s one player who can give you a gauge of how his team’s night is going to go, it’s probably Gach. With how dominant Timmy Allen has been and the surprise impact of Rylan Jones, Gach is the key alternative wing option for this group that has proved pivotal in wins so far.

Game Info

  • Date: Thursday, January 2nd
  • Time: 5:30 PM PT
  • Location: Jon M. Huntsman Center (Salt Lake City, UT)
  • Coverage: Pac-12 Network