Tucson, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - A top-10 showdown is on tap in at the McKale Center on Saturday, as the 10th-ranked Arizona Wildcats play host to the eighth-ranked Utah Utes in a key Pac-12 matchup.
Sean Miller's Wildcats are currently riding a 31-game homecourt winning streak and moved to 15-2 on the season with Thursday's 68-54 win over Colorado. The victory was the third in the last four games for Arizona and put some distance between itself and last weekend's tough loss at Oregon State (58-56).
Larry Krystkowiak's Utes have quietly gone about their business this season and enter this game with a 14-2 overall record. Utah is sporting a 4-0 league ledger and comes in with a seven-game win streak after blowing out Arizona State in Tempe on Thursday, 76-59.
This marks the 57th all-time meeting between these two teams with the series all knotted up at 28-28. Arizona however, holds a 16-8 edge in games played in Tucson and has won each of the last 10 meetings overall.
The Utes have looked impressive this year, especially in league play and that definitely carried over to Thursday's outing against the Sun Devils. Utah shot a sterling .537 from the floor in the game, including a 9-of-17 mark from behind the arc (.529). Delon Wright led the way with a game-high 21 points, fueled by a perfect 12-of-12 from the free-throw line. Jordan Loveridge played a huge role in the win as well, finishing with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Brandon Taylor tacked on 13 points.
Utah as excelled at both ends of the floor this season and has a +20.5 scoring margin to show for it. The team is netting 75.8 ppg on a conference-best .503 shooting, while limiting foes to just 55.3 ppg (first in the Pac-12) and a mere .366 shooting percentage (second in the Pac-12). Wright has been the driving force at the offensive end, shooting .555 overall, while posting 15.3 ppg. Loveridge is next in the scoring column at 11.1 ppg. Taylor (9.9 ppg) and Jakob Poeltl (9.3 ppg) are just under the double-digit mark. Poeltl leads the conference in field-goal percentage (.663) and ranks fourth in rebounding (8.2 rpg).
Arizona used a strong interior game to distance itself from Colorado and continue its win streak at home this week. The Wildcats outscored the Buffaloes by 16 points in the paint and held a 41-26 edge in rebounding in the win. Stanley Johnson led the way with 22 points. Kaleb Tarczewski added 14 points, while Elliot Pitts came off the bench to provide 12 points in the victory.
The Wildcats also play a balanced game at both ends of the floor, as they rank third in the conference in both scoring (74.6 ppg) and scoring defense (59.2 ppg). The team's .489 field-goal percentage is second in the league, while its .395 field-goal percentage defense ranks sixth. Johnson is just a freshman, but the 6-foot-7 youngster is tops on the team in both scoring (14.4 ppg) and rebounding (6.7 rpg). Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (11.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg), Brandon Ashley (11.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and Tarczewski (8.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg) provide plenty of frontcourt depth, while Gabe York (9.2 ppg) and T.J. McConnell (8.7 ppg) are the backcourt leaders. McConnell ranks second in the league in assists (5.9 apg). York however, did not play in the win over Colorado and is listed as questionable for this game with an ankle injury.