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Utah Utes vs Arizona Wildcats Pick & Prediction, Sat Jan 15 08:00 PM

NCAAB | BASKETBALL
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Logo Utah Utes
VS
Logo Arizona Wildcats
0
OPENNER
156.5

19 -110
CURRENT
157.5o -110

+1921
MONEYLINE
-4798

64
SCORE
82

The early leader in the Pac-12 Conference will face the last-place team Saturday night when No. 6 Arizona takes on Utah in Tucson, Ariz.

The Wildcats (13-1, 3-0 Pac-12) are coming off a 76-55 home victory against Colorado on Thursday night, when they outscored the Buffaloes 44-27 after halftime. Utah (8-8, 1-5) has lost four consecutive games, all in conference.

"I told the guys, 'Hey, the seasons are long. These games are tough. They're up and down,'" Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said after the Colorado game. "I was really proud of the way they responded in the second half. And any time you win a conference game by this margin, you're going to take it."

Lloyd is using a tight eight-man rotation since Kim Aiken Jr. has missed the past seven games for personal reasons. One of those rotational bench players, Pelle Larsson, is coming off arguably his best game at Arizona, and now he'll be playing his former team. Larsson averaged 8.2 points and shot 46.3 percent from 3-point range as a freshman for the Utes last season.

Larsson, who missed the bulk of preseason workouts due to a broken foot, might now be rounding into form. He had 12 points, five rebounds and made 2 of 3 shots from beyond the arc against the Buffaloes.

"Pelle is really coming on," Lloyd said. "I really feel that and see that. I just want him to tighten up some of his decision-making and his passes just a little bit. I think he's really about to turn the corner and is going to be a significant contributor the second half of the season."

Utah's most recent game was a 77-61 home loss to Washington State last Saturday. The Utes were scheduled to play Thursday night at Arizona State, but the game was postponed due to COVID-19 issues in the Sun Devils' program.

"We always have to look at the positive in everything, and I think the positive is we are going to be able to have four days of practice here where we can add some new things and just hone in on some things," said Utah coach Craig Smith.

"Because clearly we don't have some things down to a T, and I am not sure everybody is executing the way that we need to do to be successful in the Pac-12."

It will be harder for the Utes to be successful without leading scorer Branden Carlson (13.3 points, 6.3 rebounds per game), who is out after undergoing an appendectomy last Saturday.

The absence of the 7-footer leaves the Utes short-handed in the frontcourt against the talented Arizona big men.

While wing Bennedict Mathurin leads the Wildcats with 18.5 points per game, Azuolas Tubelis (14.7 ppg) and shot-blocking specialist Christian Koloko (13.1) are forces down low, combining to average 13.5 rebounds.

For Utah, David Jenkins Jr. and Both Gach each average 10.9 points.

But it's hard to see the Utes having enough firepower against Arizona, which dropped to No. 2 nationally in scoring after Thursday's night game against Colorado. The Wildcats are averaging 88.9 points and excel in transition.

"True colors come out during adversity, right?" Smith said of his team. "So we are going to find out."

--Field Level Media

PREDICTION
Utah Utes
70
89
Arizona Wildcats

Utah Utes vs. Arizona Wildcats

Zeke Nnaji scored 24 points and grad transfer Max Hazzard matched that output while setting his career high at Arizona as the Wildcats routed Utah 93-77 on Thursday night in Tucson, Ariz.

The Wildcats, who dropped out of the AP poll this week for the first time this season, snapped a two-game losing streak. Arizona (12-5, 2-2 Pac-12) had lost five of its past seven games.

Nnaji, a freshman post player, made 9 of 12 shots from the field -- including his second 3-pointer of the season -- and pulled down a game-high eight rebounds.

Hazzard, a guard who helped UC Irvine win an NCAA Tournament game last season, came off the bench to pour in 14 points in the first half to tie his scoring high at Arizona. He finished 6 of 10 from 3-point range and reached 1,000 career points.

Utah (10-6, 1-3) lost its third consecutive game and dropped to 0-8 in Tucson since joining the Pac-12.

Riley Battin and Timmy Allen each scored 16 to lead the Utes. Allen entered as the Pac-12's leading scorer at 20.2 points per game.

Arizona led by 24 at halftime, and the outcome was never in doubt in the second half, despite an 8-0 run by Utah that cut the deficit to 57-38 with 16:38 left. Nico Mannion responded with a 3-pointer, and Arizona's lead never dipped below 17 until the final minute.

Dylan Smith contributed 12 points and six assists for Arizona. Mannion had 11 points and five assists.

Arizona played without starting center Chase Jeter (8.1 points, 5.3 rebounds per game), who is considered day-to-day because of back spasms. That didn't prevent the Wildcats from getting off to a fast start, going up 14-6 on Hazzard's first 3-pointer after 5 1/2 minutes.

His basket with 11:41 to go in the half gave Arizona its first double-digit lead at 22-11, and the Wildcats' hot shooting pushed the lead to 14 on Hazzard's fourth triple of the half. Arizona shot 54.1 percent overall -- 8 of 14 from 3-point range -- in the first half and took a 52-28 lead into he locker room.

Arizona's Stone Gettings, a graduate transfer from Cornell, made his first start for the Wildcats in place of Jeter. He scored seven points in 28 minutes.

--Field Level Media

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