Portland, OR (SportsNetwork.com) - After both teams were able to stave off upsets in second-round action on Thursday, the fifth-seeded Utah Utes will play against the fourth-seeded Georgetown Hoyas in the third round of the NCAA Tournament at the Moda Center on Saturday.
The winner of this contest will move on to the Sweet 16 and take on either Duke or San Diego State.
Utah took on Southland Conference champion Stephen F. Austin on Thursday, and fended off a tough Lumberjacks squad with a 57-50 victory. The Utes, of the Pac-12, are now 36-30 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
Georgetown had a streak of underachieving early on in the national tournament, but the Hoyas put that to rest on Thursday with an 84-74 victory over Big Sky champion Eastern Washington. The Hoyas improved to 47-28 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
This will be the first time these two legendary programs meet on the basketball court.
Stephen F. Austin comes from a conference known for strong offensive teams. The Southland houses the nation's top-scoring offense (Northwestern State) and some of the best individual offensive players around. But the Utes, who ranked first in the Pac-12 in scoring defense entering the tournament, limited the Lumberjacks to 33.3 percent shooting in the contest, with a 5-of-26 mark from 3-point range. The Utes buried 47.4 percent of their attempts in the win, and were led by Jakob Poeltl's 18 points and eight rebounds. Jordan Loveridge netted 12 before fouling out, and Delon Wright scored 11 points with six rebounds, though he turned the ball over six times.
Wright had an uncharacteristically sluggish game against Stephen F. Austin, but the star guard still heads into the contest against Georgetown with a team-leading 14.8 ppg and 5.2 apg mark. Defensively, Wright has been a beast with a team-best 69 steals, adding in 33 blocked shots to rank second on the squad behind Poeltl's 59 swats. Brandon Taylor (10.4 ppg) and Loveridge (10.2 ppg) level off a trio of double-digit scorers for the Utes, who come into Saturday's match averaging 71.6 ppg. That scoring defense, which limits opponents to 56.7 ppg on 38.1 percent shooting, was the staple of Utah's season.
Georgetown started the game against Eastern Washington off strong, and went into halftime owning a 10-point, 43-33 advantage, which allowed the Hoyas to coast through the second half. Tyler Harvey, the nation's leading scorer, was able to tally 27 points for the Eagles, but it wasn't enough to lead his team over the powerful Hoyas. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera netted 25 points to lead Georgetown, adding in eight rebounds with six turnovers. Jabril Trawick, Mikael Hopkins and Paul White all scored 10 points apiece to aid the effort. Big man Joshua Smith only played seven minutes for the Hoyas.
Smith ranks second on the team in scoring with 10.8 ppg, and adds 5.8 rpg to tie for the team lead with Hopkins. He's played in every game this season and started all but one. He's been one of the most important players for Georgetown, along with Smith-Rivera, who leads the squad with 16.5 ppg, 95 assists and 49 steals. They are two keys pieces in a deep Georgetown lineup that has helped the team to net 71.1 ppg on 45.6 percent shooting.