Time: 3 p.m., Tucson time
Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,538)
Radio: IMG College/Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Jim Rosborough) [Sirius/XM: 113/192]
TV: Pac-12 Networks (Kevin Calabro/Matt Muehlebach)
Utah has not won a road/neutral conference game since joining the Pac-12. The Utes are 0-11 after Wednesday’s 55-54 overtime loss at ASU. The Utes’ last road conference victory came on Feb. 19, 2011 in a 62-60 win at New Mexico as a member of the Mountain West Conference. When Arizona made the jump to the Pac-10 from the WAC — Utah was also in that league — in 1978-79, the Wildcats lost their first five road games before sweeping the Bay area schools. Utah gave the Wildcats a scare last year at McKale Center when the UA trailed by 13 points but rallied to win 70-61. Nick Johnson’s three-pointer with 1:24 left gave the Wildcats the lead. After Thursday’s escape against Colorado, Arizona coach Sean Miller does not these type of comebacks to be commonplace. “We’re getting lucky right now but it won’t be there forever,” UA senior Kevin Parrom told the media Thursday. “We can’t get in deep holes. We have to start better.”
How about this for balance?: Led by senior guard Mark Lyons, Arizona had a season-high six players in double figures Thursday against Colorado. Lyons (season-high 24), Parrom (16), Solomon Hill (15), Johnson (12), Kaleb Tarczewski (10) and Grant Jerrett (10) combined to total 87 points. The UA has not had six players finish in double figures since Jan. 10, 2010, in an 87-70 win over Washington. Hill was beset by foul trouble most of the game and sat for half of the second half. The Wildcats did not allow the game to get out of hand without him. Lyons, a 6-foot-1 guard, equaled a career high with 10 free throws. He made five of those in the extra session. “I wasn’t nervous,” Lyons told reporters about his late free throws. “Kevin came up to me and said `You already know you’re making both of these.’ I mean, I can be nervous but if my teammates have confidence in me, then I’ll get it done. I thought I lost the game for us when I turned the ball over late, but I stuck with it and my teammates stuck with it. Good players make adjustments.”
CLIMBING THE LADDER TO NO. 1
Note: Should be interesting to see if the AP voters, members of the national media, make Arizona (if it beats Utah) slip after its controversial win over Colorado on Thursday at McKale Center.
Utah senior center Jason Washburn (6-10, 242 pounds) figures to be a good challenge for Arizona’s freshman bigs. Washburn ﬁnished with season-highs of 19 points and four blocks while also pulling down a career-high 18 rebounds against ASU on Wednesday in the Sun Devils’ 55-54 win in overtime. Colorado center Josh Scott maintained good positioning against Arizona’s freshman frontline players Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley in the Wildcats’ 92-83 overtime win over the Buffaloes on Thursday. Scott made 6-of-8 field goals and was not pressured into a turnover in 35 minutes. His play inside and the penetration ability of Colorado’s guards enabled the Buffaloes to have an effective inside-outside game that weakened the UA’s defense on the perimeter.
A lid is on the basket lately as far as Arizona’s backcourt of Lyons and Johnson is concerned from three-point range in the last two games against San Diego State and Colorado. Coincidentally, the Wildcats have faced athletic guards who can defend in those games. Lyons and Johnson made 5 of 24 attempts from three-point range against the Aztecs and Buffaloes. Lyons was 3-of-12 and Johnson 2-of-12. The Wildcats were 13 of 43 (30.2 percent) as a team in those games. Their best shooters from the perimeter lately have been Parrom and Jerrett off the bench. Parrom was 3 of 5 from three-point range against San Diego State and Jerrett 2 of 3 against Colorado. Parrom leads the UA from beyond the arc, making 45.9 percent of his shots (17 of 37). Jerrett is second at 42.9 percent (12 of 28).
The Utes might be struggling with five losses but at least they were not afraid of playing true road games in their non-conference schedule. Utah is one of 15 schools among the six BCS conferences to play at least three true road games during non-conference play this season. The others are Alabama, Clemson, Colorado, DePaul, Iowa State, LSU, Miami, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Ole Miss, Rutgers, USC, Villanova and Virginia Tech. LSU was the only school to play three straight road non-conference games. The Utes won at Texas State (74-69) and lost at BYU (61-58) and SMU (62-55). Utah has two victories over non-Division I opponents Willamette and College of Idaho, so in the eyes of the RPI, they are really 6-5. Willamette is an NCAA Division III school and College of Idaho is an NAIA program.
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak, who averaged 4.9 rebounds in 21.7 minutes a game during his nine-year NBA career, wants Utah’s big men to maintain a similar pace of approximately one rebound every four minutes. Krystowiak’s NBA average was one rebound every 4.4 minutes. Sophomore Dallin Bachynski is currently averaging one rebound every 3.0 minutes, Washburn is averaging one every 3.5 minutes and freshman Jordan Loveridge one every 3.9. Utah is 7-1 when it grabs more rebounds than its opponent, losing only to Cal State Northridge despite being plus-11 on the glass. Ashley averages a rebound every 3.6 minutes for Arizona. Tarczewski is at 3.8. Parrom is at 4.3 and Hill is only at one every 5.8 minutes (that’s more of a reflection of him moving from power forward to the wing this season).
PAC-12 RPI ASSESSMENT
RPI based on CBSSports.com
|Rank||Team||Record||P12||Top50||SOS||*Quality Wins||**Poor Losses|
|4||Arizona||13-0||1-0||5-0||19||No. 5 Colorado (H)/No. 10 Miami (N)/No. 12 Florida (H)/No. 41 SDSU (N)/No. 47 Southern Miss (H)||None|
|5||Colorado||10-3||0-1||3-3||3||No. 22 Colorado State (H)/No. 40 Baylor (N)/No. 49 Murray State (N)||None|
|39||UCLA||11-3||1-0||2-1||41||No. 26 Indiana State (H)/No. 34 Missouri (H)||No. 178 Cal Poly (H)|
|60||Oregon||11-2||0-0||2-1||207||No. 18 UNLV (A)/No. 48 Nebraska (H)||None|
|72||ASU||12-2||1-0||0-1||208||None||No. 193 DePaul (H)|
|73||California||8-5||0-1||0-2||42||None||No. 126 Wisconsin (A)|
|85||Stanford||9-5||0-1||0-4||74||None||No. 135 USC (A)|
|94||Washington||8-5||0-0||0-3||43||None||No. 124 Albany (H)/No. 190 Nevada (H)|
|128||Utah||6-5||0-1||1-1||70||No. 27 Boise State (H)||No. 165 SMU (A)/No. 232 Sacramento St. (H)|
|135||USC||6-8||1-0||0-6||17||None||No. 165 Cal Irvine (H)/No. 201 Georgia (A)|
|184||Wash. St.||9-4||0-0||0-2||275||None||No. 158 Pepperdine (A)|
|192||Oregon St.||10-3||0-0||0-1||331||None||No. 167 Towson (H)|
*-Wins vs. Top 50 teams
**-Losses vs. Top 100 teams or lower
SOS-Strength of schedule
Site publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner