The Utes are back after the Christmas holiday for one heck of a matchup against No. 6 Nevada at the Huntsman Center. The Utes are coming off of a couple of wins against over matched opponents, and now we’ll see if they can turn those performances into a great one against a senior laden Nevada team. The Wolfpack have five seniors that anchor their rotation, with a ton of experience, including a Sweet 16 berth last season.
This game for the Utes will be the normal formal: take care of the ball, keep the ball moving on offense, and limit Nevada to one and done on the offensive end. For this Utah squad, it’s all about the basics. If they start there they can build a good performance. Also, they can’t go through big stretches of not scoring, like we’ve become so used to seeing. This game could end up being similar to the Kentucky performance. The Utes kept that one close, then an offensive drought kicked in and the ‘Cats pulled away. The Utes need Barefield to keep up him clean play, and his aggressive, but smart play. The Utes are going to have to shoot well from beyond the arc to win this game, so that means Barefield, Van Dyke, Tillman and Jones need to shoot well. I actually think Charles Jones may be the key to this team. They need a scorer, and that’s what he was in JC. He’s struggled mightily so far this season, and if he lives up to his reputation, then I think Utah has their X-factor.
Here’s some more notes about this game and Nevada from the office release from UtahUtes.com:
The Wolf Pack are currently ranked No. 6 in the nation and are one of just five teams remaining with an undefeated record. Nevada is 12-0 on the season and has won 18 of its last 19 regular-season games dating back to last season.
Jordan Caroline averages nearly a double-double with a team-high 9.6 rebounds per game and ranks tied for first on the team with an 18.8 points per game scoring average. Caroline currently ranks ninth in the nation with seven double-doubles on the season. Caleb Martin also averages 18.8 points per game on the season and ranks among the nation’s top-10 with 110 three-point attempts. He has connected on a team-best 36 of those attempts for a .327 shooting percentage from downtown.
Nevada is averaging 82.5 points per game, while giving up just 67.2 points to opposing teams for a +15.2 scoring margin. The Wolf Pack is shooting .468 as a team overall, which includes a .344 effort from beyond the arc.
UTAH VS. NEVADA HISTORY
The Utes and Wolf Pack will meet for the 11th time overall, but it will mark the first contest the two teams have played each other since 1987. Utah won the previous meeting, 83-75, in Salt Lake City back on Dec. 22, 1987 - exactly 31 years and seven days ago. Utah is 10-0 all-time when facing Nevada, in a series that dates back all the way to 1930. The Utes are 5-0 all-time when facing Nevada in Salt Lake City.
Utah is a combined 571-330 (.634) all-time when facing teams from the Mountain West Conference, which includes a 6-6 mark against teams from the MWC since Utah moved to the Pac-12 in 2011-12.
GAME 12: Utah (6-5) vs. No. 6/6 Nevada (12-0)
WHERE: Salt Lake City, Utah (Jon M. Huntsman Center)
WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018
TIP-OFF: 12 p.m. MT
TELEVISION: Pac-12 Networks / Pac-12 LIVE
Join us here to chat about the game if you can’t make it to the Red Out at the Huntsman!