Washington State Cougars (9-9 SU, 9-8 ATS, 7-10 O/U) vs. Utah Utes (11-7 SU, 7-7-2 ATS, 5-10-1 O/U)
NCAAB: Sunday, January 21, 2018 at 8:00 p.m. EST
The Line: Utah Utes -10.5. Total: 147.5
The Washington State Cougars have lost five of their last six games heading into a road date with the Utah Utes at the Jon M. Huntsman Center on Sunday evening. Washington State picked up a win over California last weekend but then fell at Colorado on Thursday. The Utes halted a four-game skid of their own by beating Washington earlier this week.
Hoping to bust a slump
Washington State is hoping to recapture its form that was on display earlier in the season, as the Cougars have gone 3-9 since opening the season 6-0. Their hot start featured wins over Saint Mary’s and San Diego State. Head coach Ernie Kent’s crew was unable to build on its 78-53 rout of California on Jan. 13, as it began a three-game road trip on Thursday with an 82-73 setback at Colorado. Guards Viont’e Daniels and Carter Skaggs combined for 35 points and an 11-for-20 showing from three-point range, but leading scorers Robert Franks (17.7 points per game) and Malachi Flynn (14.8 ppg) combined for only 13 points of 5-of-18 shooting (and eight personal fouls). Despite Franks’ team-high eight rebounds, the Cougars finished with a 39 to 29 deficit on the glass against the Buffaloes and rank next to last in the conference with a minus-1.8 rebound margin. Washington State kept things interesting against Colorado with a 15-of-34 three-point shooting performance and has taken over the national lead with an average of 12.1 made treys per game.
Playing some ‘D’
Utah renewed its commitment to defense on Thursday, evident in the form of a 70-62 win over Washington. Three days later, the Utes will try for a two-game home sweep over an opponent from the same state (Washington State in this case). In its two-game road trip through Los Angeles the previous weekend, Utah was shredded for a combined 167 points by UCLA and USC–including a combined 26-of-52 performance from three-point range.
“We have a defensive plan, and we’re able to guard people,” Utes senior forward David Collette explained. “It’s just a matter of effort…but we’ve been missing that. Everyone just has to find it in themselves to give that effort.”
Guard Justin Bibbins (14.3 points per game) produced a game-high 20 points against Washington–his eighth straight outing with at least 12–and has taken over the team scoring lead. Collette (13.5 ppg), forwards Donnie Tillman (10.5 ppg) and Tyler Rawson (10.4 ppg), and guard Sedrick Barefield (10.4 ppg) also have double-digit averages. Bibbins is averaging a team-high 4.7 assists per contest. Rawson (6.3 rebounds per game), Tillman (6.2 rpg) and 7-footer Jayce Johnson (6.0 rpg) are all averaging at least six rebounds per game. The Utes, though, haven’t been nearly as formidable on the glass as in recent seasons with a minus-0.2 rebound margin. Utah has won eight of 10–including seven straight–in the series against Washington State since joining the Pac-12 in 2011. The Utes are 7-2 at home this season, while the Cougars are still searching for their first true road win at 0-5.
The Washington State Cougars are:
- 39-19 Under in their last 58 overall
- 4-1 Under in their last five games against teams with winning records
- 28-9 Under in their last 37 games following a loss
The Utah Utes are:
- 7-2-1 Under in their last 10 overall
- 4-1-1 Under in their last six home games
- 5-2 Under in their last seven games against the Pac-12
Against the Huskies, Utah shot only 38.5 percent from the field–including 2-of-18 beyond the arc to finish with its second-lowest single-game scoring output of the season. For Washington State, Franks and Flynn have cooled off. The under is 39-19 in the Cougars’ last 58 overall, 4-1 in their last five against winning opponents, 28-9 in their last 37 following a loss, and 27-11 in their last 38 against the Pac-12. It is also 7-2-1 in the Utes’ last 10 overall, 4-1-1 in their last six at home, 5-2 in their last seven against the Pac-12, and 10-4 in their last 14 following a win. Additionally, the under is 4-1 in the last five meetings between the two teams. Look for this one to stay under the total.