Salt Lake City, UT (SportsNetwork.com) - The 12th-ranked Utah Runnin' Utes settle in at the Huntsman Center on Sunday as they host the Washington Huskies in Pac-12 Conference action.
The Utes, who dropped four places in the latest poll due to a 69-51 loss to nationally-ranked Arizona last weekend, entered this weekend tied with the Wildcats for first place in the Pac-12 standings at 5-1. The team is coming off an 86-64 thrashing of Washington State four nights ago at home, the eighth win in the last nine outings for the Utes.
Meanwhile, the Huskies are facing their third ranked team of the season and already have a pair of victories against such esteemed opponents (San Diego State and Oklahoma). Washington, which is 3-3 in conference play, has won three straight outings, including an exciting 52-50 decision at Colorado that went down to the wire on Thursday night.
The Utes, who are unbeaten at home this season and have a 14-game home win streak stretching back to last season, won the most recent meeting against Washington (67-61) during last year's Pac-12 Tournament. As a result, the all- time series is tied at eight games apiece.
Utilizing just one player off the bench three nights ago, the Huskies put themselves in a difficult situation at Colorado, but in the end it all worked out as Andrew Andrews knocked down a jumper with less than a second remaining on the clock to give the visitors the victory. Andrews converted just 3-of-12 shots from the floor as he finished with 12 points, while Nigel Williams-Goss led the way with a game-high 16 points, even though his 0-of-4 percent behind the 3-point line led the team to a 4-of-16 showing out on the perimeter.
During conference outings, Williams-Goss is typically the go-to guy on offense, producing 16.8 ppg as he plays 38.5 minutes per contest. He is also responsible for 34 assists and 4.5 rpg, but still it is tough to overlook his mere 2-of-17 accuracy beyond the arc. Andrews accounts for 13.3 ppg, making just 37.5 percent of his field goal tries, while Robert Upshaw (10.8 ppg) continues his efforts in the paint with 9.5 rpg and 24 of the unit's 30 blocked shots.
Utah watched Washington State score the first four points of their meeting earlier in the week, but then took control with 53.1 percent shooting from the floor in the first half, en route to a 19-point lead at the break and a convincing 22-point victory. Brandon Taylor scored 18 points and handed out seven assists, while fellow guard Delon Wright tallied 17 points and eight dishes of his own. Jordan Loveridge responded with 14 points and six rebounds, although he shot just 3-of-11 from the floor for a group that registered a mere four turnovers, compared to 17 for the visitors.
Gaining national recognition for his ability to drive the Utes to success, Wright not only paces the team in scoring with 13.8 ppg in conference play, he is also first with 7.0 apg and has registered 2.5 steals per outing as well. Taylor checks in with 12.3 ppg, having made good on a staggering 17-of-28 (.607) out on the perimeter where the squad is 43.9 percent successful. In addition to generating 72.8 ppg in league action, Utah is also clamping down on defense, permitting just 55.8 ppg.