Pac-12 clash pits Cougars against Utes

Jan 21, 2015 - 3:30 PM Salt Lake City, UT ( - Coming off a humbling loss, the 12th- ranked Utah Utes seek a quick turnaround, as they play host to the Washington State Cougars on Wednesday evening, in a Pac-12 matchup at the Huntsman Center.

The Utes had a seven-game win streak come to an end on Saturday, with a 69-51 loss at Arizona. The setback was the first in league play for Larry Krystkowiak's squad and, dropping the team to 14-3 overall and 4-1 in- conference.

Ernie Kent's first season at the helm of Washington State has been a mixed bag thus far. The Cougars are hovering just over the .500 mark at 9-8 overall and 3-2 in the Pac-12. WSU enters this game off a tough loss as well, falling at home to Oregon State (62-47) on Saturday.

Utah holds a 15-4 advantage in the all-time series and is 12-1 in Salt Lake City against Washington State, including a perfect 5-0 mark at the Huntsman Center. The lone defeat in Salt Lake City came way back in the first meeting during the 1938-39 season.

The Cougars are coming off one of their worst offensive showings in recent memory. Washington State was a miserable 14-of-48 from the floor (.291) against Oregon State, including an ugly 5-of-25 from 3-point range, in the lopsided loss. Davonte Lacy led the way in defeat with 16 points. Josh Hawkinson was the only other Cougar to finish in double figures, just missing a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds.

Offensively, the Cougars have been much better on the year. The team enters this contest averaging 71.8 ppg on .431 shooting. Lacy has been outstanding, despite his game being volume driven. Although he is shooting a modest .412 from the field, he ranks fourth in the Pac-12 in scoring at 17.4 ppg. The sophomore Hawkinson is a much more efficient .503 from the floor and ranks seventh in the league in scoring (15.4 ppg) and leads the league in rebounding (11.0 rpg).

Utah opened strong on a 10-2 run against Arizona, but the wheels fell off the cart in Tucson and the Utes simply couldn't keep pace, dropping their first league bout of the season by 18 points. The usually stingy Utes allowed the Wildcats to shoot 49 percent from the floor, while delivering on only 39 percent of their own shots. Brandon Taylor led three Utes in double figures with 12 points in the setback. Jordan Loveridge and Delon Wright finished with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

The defensive effort against Arizona was a bit of an anomaly. The Utes still rank among the nation's best in scoring defense (56.1 ppg) and field-goal percentage defense (.373). Offensively, the team puts up 74.4 ppg on a highly efficient 49.8 percent shooting. Wright headlines the offensive attack, posting 15.0 ppg on a sizzling 54.9 percent efficiency. Loveridge is next in the scoring column at 11.1 ppg, followed closely by Taylor and his 10.1 ppg.

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