It may have been the most controversial call of the entire NCAA basketball season, but when Sabatino Chen’s buzzer beater was called off on Thursday night, it pumped enough life into Arizona for it to pull off the victory in overtime. The win was the Wildcats’ most unimaginable yet, having trailed by seventeen points at one time during the game.
Nevertheless, Arizona remains undefeated with a 13-0 record heading into Saturday’s matchup with Utah (8-5,0-1).
The Utes lost a heartbreaker to Arizona State in overtime when a Jason Washburn hook-shot fell short as time was running down. Utah had a final chance, but Jarred DuBois’ tip bounced off the rim as time expired.
Prior to the ASU game, the Utes won eight of their first twelve to complete non-conference play. Utah came close to beating BYU, losing by just three. However, The Utes are lacking a quality win on the season and are just 1-3 on the road, making the game against Arizona dangerous for them.
Utah is an interesting matchup for Arizona because of the playing style. It slows down the game considerably, forcing opponents to play defense for the entirety of the shot clock and making teams score in a half-court offense. While Arizona is highly favored in this game, the Wildcats have needed work running the offense out of half-court sets, so it will be interesting to see how the Wildcats attack Utah.
Arizona will have to contain DuBois, a graduate student transfer from Loyola Marymount with just a single year of eligibility. He is making good use of it, averaging 13.3 points and 3.6 assists a night. There is no doubt that DuBois can score, but the tough defense of Nick Johnson should counteract the senior’s offense.
Another transfer, Aaron Dotson should start next to DuBois occupying one of the guard spots. Dotson is a redshirt junior that sat out the previous year after coming to Utah from LSU. He has only played in eight games this season, but has slowly increased his playing time over the past few games, starting the last four for the Utes.
If Utah decides to go small against Arizona, Glen Dean will be the third guard on the court. The junior, standing just 5-foot-10, can be deadly from beyond the arc. Dean is hitting 41-percent from three-point range, hitting almost two a game on his way to eight points a contest. If the Utes decide to go big, he will likely be the first guard off the bench.
Washburn, the go-to guy for Utah in the game against ASU, is a player that could give Arizona some grief. The senior is 6-foot-10 and will likely matchup against Kaleb Tarczewski. He is only averaging ten points a contest, but is coming off the best game of his career with nineteen points and eighteen rebounds in Tempe. Washburn also had four blocks that night to add to his season total of 24.
Completing the starting lineup is Utah’s star freshman, Jordan Loveridge. The forward has started all thirteen games for Utah and is the second leading scorer on the team with a 12.7 average. He is a high-energy player that may get a favorable matchup, as he may be quicker than Grant Jerrett and Brandon Ashley. Loveridge is also the leading rebounder, grabbing nearly eight boards while he was on the court.
Utah Head Coach Larry Krystkowiak has shown faith in the young player, letting him stay on the court for 41 of the 45 total minutes against Arizona State.
Utah also has a pair of players who were once starters, but have since lost those jobs. Dallin Bachynski, a 7-foot sophomore, has seen his minutes drop off in recent weeks, but is still averaging eighteen a game. Bachynski is trying to make the best out of those minutes, averaging 5.8 rebounds and 7.2 points a game. His main downfall has been foul trouble, as he is worst on the team with a foul every seven minutes.
Senior forward Cedric Martin also had his starting position taken away from him, although he is still earning a considerable amount of playing time (28.7 minutes). One reason for Martin coming off the bench could be his productivity, as he is scoring 4.6 points a night.
After those two, Utah really only uses two other players consistently, Justin Seymour and Renan Lenz. Both average just over ten minutes a game, but don’t produce very much individually. Together they average eight points and five rebounds, which is a decent number if they were just one player. Arizona shouldn’t have much trouble stopping them, however they are players that can slip through the cracks and get their averages.
While the Wildcats shouldn’t have much trouble against this Utah team that has improved since last season, the Utes kept the game in McKale close last year.
Arizona came away with a nine point victory on that day, but it was a scare that Arizona would rather not have again this time, especially after the emotion filled win over Colorado.
The Wildcats came out to a slow start against the Buffaloes, but it likely won't make the same mistakes for a second consecutive game. If Arizona gets off to a quick start, the game shouldn't be close for long.