With the calendar flipping to December, Utah onlyhas two nonconference games remaining on its home schedule. The first of thosewill be played Saturday night when the Utes host former Western AthleticConference rival Hawaii.
Utah has won nine straight regular-season homegames, including a 4-0 mark so far this season, and will play three of itsfinal non-league contests outside of Salt Lake City before Pac-12 play tips offDec. 29. The Utes’ only other home nonconference game remaining after Saturdayis a Dec. 20 date against Northwestern State. The Rainbow Warriors, meanwhile,will be venturing to the mainland for the first time this season after a 4-1start at home. Fortuitously, the date in Salt Lake will serve as the only nonconferenceroad game of the season for Hawaii, which won’t return to the continentalUnited States until its Jan. 4 Big West Conference opener at Long Beach State.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
ABOUT HAWAII (4-1): The Rainbow Warriors bouncedback from their lone loss – a 67-54 defeat versus undefeated Nevada on Nov. 24– with an 87-77 win over Division II Adams State on Wednesday. Senior forwardGibson Johnson matched his career high with 19 points in the game to up hisseason average to 12.8, and he joins forward Mike Thomas (13.2 points) andguard Leland Green (10.6) in double digits. Jack Purchase, a 6-foot-9 forward, isaveraging a team-best 6.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists while contributing 7.0points per outing.
ABOUT UTAH (5-1): Like Hawaii, the Utes alsosuffered their lone loss during Thanksgiving Week to a hot-starting,Nevada-based Mountain West Conference squad, falling to UNLV 85-58 in the Nov.22 championship game of the MGM Main Event in Las Vegas. Utah bounced back two nightslater with an 85-69 home win over Eastern Washington as forward David Collettescored a career-high 24 points. Collette leads five players in double figureswith a 14.7-point average, while forwards Tyler Rawson (10.8 points, 6.5rebounds) and reserve Donnie Tillman (10.0 points, team-best 6.7 boards), a 6-foot-7freshman, are the Utes’ leaders on the glass.
1. Utah holds a commanding 48-10 lead in the series,including 14 straight wins and a 23-1 overall mark in Salt Lake City.
2. Utah leads the Pac-12 in scoring defense (66.7points) and 3-point shooting defense (24.1 percent).
3. Hawaii is shooting 45.5 percent from the fieldbut is only hitting 26.7 percent from 3-point range and 63.6 percent from thefree throw line.
PREDICTION: Utah 81, Hawaii 66