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Runnin’ Utes Return Home Saturday

NCAA Basketball: Utah at Xavier Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Utah basketball will look to close their non-conference home schedule with a win on Saturday when they host Prairie View A&M. Utah is coming off it’s second loss of the season to Xavier a week ago. The Panthers out of the SWAC are a lowly 2-9 having lost 6 in a row.

As has been a trend in recent games (Utah Valley, Xavier), this will be the first meeting between the two programs. Utah has had success against the SWAC conference in the past however, beating Southern in 2009 and Alabama State in 2014. Utah appears likely to continue their success against Prairie View, with the Panthers 0-5 against Pac-12 teams since 2011 and their only wins this season coming against Fresno State and Jarvis Christian College.

The Panthers are led by guard Daquan Cook. The UNLV transfer leads the team in minutes per game (30.8), scoring (13.3 ppg) and total steals (20). Forward Zachary Hamilton is the other big scorer for the Panthers as the team’s second leading scorer (13 ppg). Down in the post, 6-8 forward Admassu Williams leads the team in rebounds (4.2 ppg) and provides some scoring help (6.8 ppg).

Utah will be hoping to welcome newcomers David Collette and Sedrick Barefield to the floor on Saturday. In order for the two players to be eligible, their grades from the past semester need to be posted prior to the game. Both players are expected to have a significant impact for the team moving forward. Collette will add support in the post for Kyle Kuzma while Barefield will bring another scoring presence to the guard position.

Regardless of whether Collette or Barefield play, this should be a fairly straight forward game for Utah. The Utes are by all measurements the better team, with an advantage in talent, depth, and coaching and playing at home. The Utes should be able to dominate on the boards, where they lead the lead the Pac-12 and are 4th in the country with 45.2 rebounds per game. With Utah holding opponents to a league leading 36.9% shooting percentage, Prairie View’s Cook and Hamilton will not be able to generate enough offense to push the Panthers to an upset. Utah should be able to run their win total to 7 before heading to Hawaii next week for the Diamond Head Classic.