Washington State Cougars at (12) Utah Utes (-19.5)
An interesting PAC-12 meeting will hit the stage tonight when the Washington Cougars take on the Utah Utes at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City (9:00 p.m. Eastern).
The season did not start well for the Cougars, who dropped out-of-conference games to UTEP, TCU, and UC Santa Barbara in three of their first four games. They have rebounded since then, going 8-5 and moving their overall record to 9-8.
The Cougars had been perfect at home before losing 62-47 in Pullman to the Oregon State Beavers in their last outing.
Utah, meanwhile, got off to a torrid start, winning 14 of its first 16 games (with losses to then-No. 16 San Diego State and then-No. 10 Kansas). They looked primed to contend with the best in the Pac-12, but, when they got the chance last game against No. 10 Arizona, the Utes were run out of the building (69-51). Star guard Delon Wright was held to just ten points by the uber-athletic Wildcats.
Nonetheless, Cougars head coach Ernie Kent knows that Utah is still a solid team that will pose all kinds of problems for his squad.
“They are an excellent, excellent basketball team. They deserve their ranking,” said Kent. “They ran into a little bit of a buzzsaw at Arizona and that crowd. … They’re coming off of a loss. They need to get going again. It’s going to be an incredible college basketball environment. We’re gonna have to really be on our game.”
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak recognizes that it’s early in the season yet and isn’t putting too much import on the loss to Arizona. “[Arizona c]oach Sean Miller joked about trying to figure out a way to upset us, and that was like being in the middle of a dream,” Krystkowiak said. “Coming in[to Arizona], we knew we didn’t have to pitch a perfect game, but we had to be a lot tighter in some areas. Looking at the rebounds, that’s an indication that we still have some work to do.”
The home Utes are 19.5-point favorites in the odds. The Cougars have not had much success on the road this year (2-5), but they have won their last two (over Cal and arch-rival Washington). They aren’t likely to pick up a win SU, but the Cougars and the points looks like the better play.
(Photo credit: J R (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)