The no. 7 Arizona Wildcats (24-3, 13-2) will invade the Jon M. Huntsman Center to take on the no. 13 ranked Utes (22-5, 12-3) on Saturday evening at 7 p.m. MT. In the last matchup between these two teams, Arizona turned what was billed to be a Pac-12 power showdown into a rout in a 69-51 win for the Wildcats. The Wildcats are 9-1 since, their only loss coming by three points on the road at rival Arizona State.
Arizona pass first point guard, TJ McConnell played one of the best games of his career in the previous matchup against the Utah. The Utes came out sharp in the desert starting off on a 10-2 run, Arizona needed someone to step up and take over the game, and McConnell did just that. The senior guard scored 16 points to go with 3 rebounds and 6 assists. McConnell completely controlled the game on the offensive end for Arizona and Utah did not have an answer for him. The good news is the odds are against McConnell having a career game yet again, let alone in enemy territory. Utah will need key in on McConnell defensively to ensure we don't see a repeat performance from him.
The Utes were led by Delon Wright in the last game as he finished with 10 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists and 1 steal. Brandon Taylor also provided a punch, scoring 12 points on 4-7 shooting from beyond the three point line. Jakob Peltl was held in check finishing with 6 points and 4 rebounds on only six shots.
Arizona forward Stanley Johnson will need to be guarded closely. The 6'7" 245 lb. freshman is averaging 14.5 points per game and 6.6 rebounds per game. Johnson was held scoreless in the first half of the last game before erupting for 18 second half points. The Utes will need to make Johnson settle for jump shots and keep him from driving to the basket. In the second half last game, It seemed Johnson flipped a switch and became more aggressive in driving toward the basket. With his size and speed there aren't many people who can stop him when he decides to take it into the lane. It would behoove the Utes to try and keep the ball out of Johnson's hands and keep him on the perimeter.
A key for Utah to have success in this game, is getting Poeltl involved early. The 7- foot center seems to have big games when he is able to get into a rythym early and establish some confidence scoring the ball. Early in Thursday's game against Arizona State, it looked like part of the game plan was to feed Poeltl down low and give him some early opportunites to score. That plan seemed to kind of go out the window when the it became apparent the Utes could do anything they wanted against the Sun Devils and Poeltl finished with only five shot attempts, though he converted four of them for 8 points. Against the Wildcats on Sunday Poeltl needs to get more shots close to the basket for the Utes to have a chance. If Poeltl can get off ten shot attempts, the perimeter will open up for guys like Dakari Tucker, Jordan Loveridgeand Brandon Taylor to get good outside looks and the probability of Utah pulling off an upset will dramatically increase.