Utah and Oregon State used heavy doses of defenseto win their Friday Pac-12 openers. Now they’ll meet Sunday in Corvallis, Ore.,with a 2-0 conference start on the line.
The Runnin’ Utes, didn’t get going until thesecond half Friday at Oregon, flipping a 31-23 halftime deficit into a 66-56road win over defending Pac-12 co-champion Oregon. Utah held the Ducks to 25second-half points and 56 overall – which was nearly 34 points below their averagein nine previous home contests this season – to snap Oregon’s 25-game home winstreak in Pac-12 play. “Our defense has carried us to eight nonconference wins,”Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said in his post-game news conference. “We keep(telling our players) that the rim is going to open up, but defense has to be astaple of our program and it was a nice game plan. Our guys are locked in.”Oregon State, meanwhile, limited visiting Colorado to 34.5-percent shooting anda season-low 57 points – thanks largely to nine steals and 18 forced turnovers –en route to its eighth win in nine home games this season.
TV: 6 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
ABOUT UTAH (9-3, 1-0 Pac-12): The Utes’ winFriday was their first in a road conference opener since joining the Pac-12 in2011. Guard Justin Bibbins continued his hot streak, scoring 16 of hisgame-high 19 points in second half and now has 44 points over his last twooutings to up his season average to 12.7. Forward David Collette still leadsthe way with 13.3 points and is joined in double figures by Tyler Rawson(11.5), Sedrick Barefield (10.7) and Donnie Tillman (10.7).
ABOUT OREGON STATE (9-4, 1-0): Forward TresTinkle and guard Stephen Thompson Jr. combined for 47 points, seven reboundsand nine assists against Colorado and are pacing the Beavers with 18.5 and 16.8points, respectively, on the season. Forward Drew Eubanks had seven points anda team-high nine rebounds and six blocked shots Friday and is now averaging14.0 points, 6.8 boards and a team-leading 1.9 blocks. Overall, Oregon Statehas won six straight in Gill Coliseum, winning by an average of 11.8 points.
1. Utah leads the series 17-12, but Oregon Statehas won 11 of the 13 meetings in Corvallis.
2. The Utes (66.9 points allowed) and Beavers(69.5) rank 1-2 in Pac-12 scoring defense as the only conference teamssurrendering fewer than 70 points per outing.
3. Both teams rank in the Pac-12’s bottom half inrebound margin with Oregon State seventh at a plus-3.6 and Utah 10that a plus-2.6.
PREDICTION: Utah 72, Oregon State 70