GAME NOTES: A pair of teams that are sliding down the Pac-12 Conference standings will try to pick up a win on Saturday, as the Utah Utes visit the Colorado Buffaloes at Coors Events Center.
Utah is wrapping up a three-game road trip, and the team dropped tests against Arizona State and top-ranked Arizona in the first two legs, falling to 14-6 overall and 3-5 in league play in the process. The Utes return home where they are 14-1 this season, to take on Washington next.
Colorado has also lost back-to-back decisions, with their setbacks also coming at the hands of the Wildcats and Sun Devils. The Buffaloes, once among the nationally ranked, have lost four of their last five bouts and are now 15-6 overall and 4-3 in conference. They will host Washington State next.
Although the teams split the season series a year ago, Colorado has still won six of the last seven meetings, pushing its lead in the all-time series to 24-16.
The normally potent Utes were shut down by Arizona in a 65-56 loss last Sunday. Utah only connected on 40.4 percent of its shots from the floor, while being outscored 38-24 in the paint. Delon Wright led the way with 19 points in defeat.
Utah's biggest strength this season has been its efficiency on offense. The Utes are ranked fifth in the country in field goal percentage (.504), while sitting third in the Pac-12 in scoring (79.5 ppg). Wright (16.1 ppg, 7 rpg, 5 apg, 2.6 spg) has a lot to do with the team's success, as he contributes in just about every phase of the game. Jordan Loveridge (16.6 ppg, 8 rpg) is still the team's leading scorer and rebounder, although he had just 13 points on 45-of-14 shooting to go with five boards against Arizona. Brandon Taylor (9.9 ppg) and Dakarai Tucker (8.1 ppg) are the only other players on the roster netting more than 6.5 ppg.
Colorado was run over by Arizona State in a 72-51 final in its last contest. The Buffaloes were outscored 27-6 from beyond the arc, while shooting just 42.6 percent from the field. Xavier Johnson scored 12 points as the top scorer for the losing side.
The Buffaloes' recent struggles have clearly been the result of leading scorer Spencer Dinwiddie (14.7 ppg) going down with a season-ending knee injury in January. Josh Scott (14.1 ppg, 9.1 rpg) has assumed the role of go-to scorer, but he hasn't risen to the occasion. He had 11 points against Arizona State, but connected on only 5-of-12 shots from the floor. Askia Booker (13.2 ppg) and Johnson (10.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg) are also averaging in double figures, but neither has really been able to fill the space left by Dinwiddie either.
Even without their best players, the Buffaloes are still a solid team, especially at home. They should be able to find a way to knock off Utah, a team that is winless in five tries on the road this season.
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