GAME NOTES: The Utah Utes will play their final home game of the season on Saturday, as the Colorado Buffaloes come to town for a critical Pac-12 Conference contest.
Utah will surely be sad to be ending its time at the Jon M. Huntsman Center this season, a venue where the Utes have earned all but one of their wins this season. They are 18-9 overall, which is a solid record, but their 1-7 mark on the road points to some serious weakness. Utah visits California and Stanford in its last two bouts of the regular season.
Colorado has had a week off to recover from an 88-61 thrashing at the hands of third-ranked Arizona. The extra time may be needed, considering the Buffaloes are playing their last three games of the regular season on the road. Overall, they are sporting a 20-8 overall record, including a 9-6 league ledger, good enough for a four-way tie for third place in the Pac-12 standings.
The game required overtime, but eventually Colorado knocked off visiting Utah, 79-75, when the teams met in Boulder on Feb. 1. The Buffaloes have won five of the six meetings between the teams as Pac-12 rivals, and 25 of the 41 in the all-time series.
Josh Scott finished with 18 points and eight rebounds, but Colorado was still dominated by Arizona the last time out. The Buffaloes connected on only 32.7 percent of their shots from the field, while being outscored by sizable margins both in the paint (38-13) and off turnovers (13-2).
Scott (14.5 ppg, 8.7 rpg) is the leading scorer for Colorado, although the team is still clearly missing the exploits of Spencer Dinwiddie (14.7 ppg), who was lost after undergoing left knee surgery in mid-January. Scott has scored in double figures in five straight games since he had a season-low one point against Washington State. He is also third in the Pac-12 in rebounds. Askia Booker (14.4 ppg) and Xavier Johnson (11.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg) are also important contributors. Both struggled against Arizona, with Booker tallying 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting and Johnson tacking on five points in going a dismal 1-of-10.
Utah showed just how effective it can be at home when it routed Arizona State, 86-63, recently. Delon Wright finished with 22 points, nine boards and six assists to the lead the way for the Utes, who outshot the Sun Devils, 53.8 percent to 30.8 percent.
No matter the venue, Utah has made a habit of shooting efficiently. The Utes rank sixth nationally in field goal percentage (.498), helped by their ability to move the basketball, as they rank 14th in the country in assists (16.1 apg). Running the show is Wright, who is one of the more versatile players in the Pac-12. He is netting 16.3 ppg and among the top-five players in the league in assists (5.4 apg), steals (2.6 spg) and field goal percentage (.598), all while finding time to pull down 6.8 rpg. Jordan Loveridge (15.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg) and Brandon Taylor (10.8 ppg) stand in as the second and third options, respectively.
Despite the pounding its received from Arizona, Colorado has been solid, even without Dinwiddie. However, Utah is at full health and playing on its home floor, where the squad has proven to be downright dominant at times.
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