Breakdown: Arizona vs. Utah

Arizona will head to Utah on Saturday in an attempt to all but lock up the regular season conference title. Read on for more about the game, including statistics, a complete positional breakdown, and a scoring prediction.


Arizona at Utah
Feb. 28 at 7 pm
TV: ESPN
Jon M. Huntsman Center

ARIZONA

UTAH
Overall Record
25-3 (.892)
22-5 (.815)
Location Record
7-3 (.700) on the road
16-0 (1.000) at home
Scoring/G: PF&PA(Rank)
75.9 (24)
59.3 (22)
73 (52)
55.6 (8)
Rebound Margin/G: RM (Rank)
7.9 (14)
5.2 (31)
Steals/G:
S (Rank)
7.4 (62)
6.4 (161)
Assists/G: A(Rank)
13.8 (92)
14.6 (54)
Field-Goal Percentage: FG%(Rank)
49.7 (7)
49.5 (9)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 3FG%(Rank)
35.7 (112)
40.4 (12)
Field-Goal Percentage Against: FG%(Rank)
40.1 (68)
37.6 (6)
Ranking:
Coaches' Poll
#7
#12
Ranking:
AP Poll
#7
#13
Ranking: KenPom
3 (.9628)
6 (.9497)
RPI
7 (.6527)
11 (.6309)
Point Guard

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
PG: T.J. McConnell (6-1, 195, Sr.) vs. Brandon Taylor (5-10, 167, Jr.)

Taylor played well at Arizona earlier this season, hitting four three-pointers. When his jumper is falling, he is very effective, though he does tend to rely on the three-point shot a bit too much and sometimes tries too hard to make that a major part of his game. Defensively, Arizona worked around Utah’s defense perfectly in the first meeting and McConnell finished with 16 points. The Utes are going to have to make a change on how it guards ball screens or Arizona will have similar success.
Shooting Guard

ADVANTAGE: Even
SG: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (6-7, 220, So.) vs. Delon Wright (6-5, 190, Sr.)

Yes, Delon Wright is one of the top two players in the conference. However, does that remain the case when Rondae is guarding him? In the first meeting, Utah basically screened for Wright every possession in order to get Arizona to switch. That’s how good Hollis-Jefferson is defensively. Until a player proves that he can consistently score on Rondae, it’s hard to give an opposing player the advantage. The issue here is that there is no way Utah wins this game if Wright has a bad performance.
Small Forward

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
SF: Stanley Johnson (6-7, 245, Fr.) vs. Jordan Loveridge (6-6, 222, Jr.)

Loveridge has basically completely changed as a player. He relies on the three more than he ever has and his rebounding totals are cut in half. Arizona did a great job of making sure that Loveridge never got a clean look until the second half and by then, it was too late. Johnson completely picked on Utah in the second half and it will be interesting to see if the Utes change anything because of that performance. If not, it would be nice to see Johnson aggressive early.
Power Forward

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
PF: Brandon Ashley (6-9, 230, Jr.) vs. Chris Reyes (6-7, 230, So.)

Reyes has been playing better as of late, but this game probably is not for him. He is going to see about 20 minutes of action and it would be a surprise if he was able to make a major impact. In the first meeting, he only played 16 minutes and did not do much. On the other hand, Ashley was aggressive and finished with 14 and 8. Reyes simply can’t guard Ashley and this is a mismatch as long as Ashley plays well enough to make it one.
Center

ADVANTAGE: Even
C: Kaleb Tarczewski (7-0, 245, Jr.) vs. Jakob Poeltl (7-0, 235, Fr.)

Kaleb Tarczewski has reached at least 14 points in three of his last four games. Poeltl has scored in double digits in only 2 of his last 19 games. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Tarczewski is better than Poeltl, but he has been better offensively as of late. Poeltl has probably been better on the glass and is more consistent there, but there is not one player in this matchup that is considerably better than the other.
Bench

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
Bench: Can Gabe York do it three games in a row? If so, the only bench in America that is better is Kentucky. York only played six minutes in the first meeting and there are numerous reasons for that. Elliott Pitts was better against Wright, thus he saw 23 minutes of action. You can expect Pitts to play more again Saturday, but Miller will have a choice to make if York is hitting his shots. Arizona will need to be careful of Brekkott Chapman and Dakarai Tucker. As long as those two aren’t hitting threes, Arizona has the nod here.
Coaching

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
Coaching: Sean Miller vs. Larry Krystkowiak

What Krystkowiak has done at Utah is extremely impressive. However, he still has yet to beat Sean Miller’s Arizona team. Until that happens, it’s difficult to give him an advantage here. The real coaching question is if Krystkowiak will go with what has worked all season or change up his defense, as he consistently does against Arizona.

Outcome

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
67
63
Prediction: Arizona completely dominated Utah in the first meeting. Wright couldn’t get anything going, the glass was won 40-19, and Utah looked completely overmatched. I feel confident in saying the only way Utah wins this game is if Arizona’s offense disappears. I’m not comfortable with Utah’s offense and the last thing it wants is an efficient Arizona offense. There’s a lot at stake here for both teams, but I think Arizona’s talent wins out.

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