Forget that it’s only January and that there is still plenty of hoops on the docket for the next couple months. Saturday’s schedule features what will be one of the most exciting–if not one of the most important–Pac-12 men’s tilts of the season.
It’s a showdown in the desert this evening as No. 10 Arizona hosts No. 8 Utah in a Pac-12 matchup that affects not only NCAA seeding, but the drive for the Pac-12 title as well.
Despite winning seven straight and being unbeatable in conference play–they are now the only undefeated Pac-12 team in conference play–the Utes have had their share of troubles on the road. Well, at least until this past Thursday when their luck changed for the better and they pulled out a victory over the Arizona State Sun Devils. Wooden Award hopeful Deion Wright scored 21 points to help catapult the Utes over ASU, 76-59. A big part of keeping that road streak going is beating a team Saturday that’s as untouchable at home as they come.
Not to mention that Utah suffered a nasty loss to the Wildcats, 71-39, in last season’s Pac-12 quarterfinals. Needless to say they’ll want revenge–an interesting feat given Arizona’s home prowess.
The Wildcats certainly have stats in their favor headed into Saturday’s game. They have won 31 straight at the McKale Center, and ten in a row over Utah. Plus, they are coming off a win of their own, edging out Colorado in a 68-54 home victory. However, Arizona can’t get too over confident. As pointed out to us by CBSSports.com, the Wildcats would greatly benefit from Brandon Ashley grabbing ten-plus rebounds in Saturday’s game.
Arizona also might want to avoid allowing Wright to get any free throw opportunities, as he made all 12 at ASU last Thursday.
No. 10 Arizona hosts No. 8 Utah on the Pac-12 Network. Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m. Eastern time.
*Section Photo credit to Christian Petersen, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Stephen R. Sylvanie, USA TodaySports.