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Scouting the WSU opponent: Utah

Washington State hosts the Utah Utes at 8 p.m. in Beasley Coliseum.

Can't make it to the game? Fox Sports 1 has the broadcast and radio broadcaster Matt Chazanow will of course have the call for those of you who prefer his fireside chats.

In Utah the Cougars have an opponent who was expected to be one of the Pac-12's standard bearers through most of the nonconference schedule. And the Utes did a decent job, beating BYU and Duke, even if blowout losses to Miami and Wichita State were troubling.

But Pac-12 play has been fraught with peril for the Utes, who are sitting just 2-3 after the first three weeks of conference play. Thankfully for the Utes (13-5), the conference is still rather bunched up at the moment, and if they can pick up a road win or two over the Washington schools then they can avoid panic for another week.

The Cougars, meanwhile, are still searching for their second Pac-12 win. This is the first conference home game for WSU (9-8, 1-4 Pac-12) with the students back in town, and it will be interesting to see how that affects attendance, and how attendance affects the players.

WSU acquitted itself well in the overtime loss to a Washington team that is proving to be pretty good the last time the Cougars were in Beasley, thanks in part to some students and fans who made it back to Pullman in time for the rivalry game. Coach Ernie Kent still believes Friel Court can be a tough place for visiting teams this season, but the Cougars have to give fans a reason to show up.

Here's a quick glance at the Utes:

Record: 13-5, 2-3 Pac-12
Points per game: 77.9
Opponent points per game: 69.2
Field goal percentage: 48.1
3-point percentage: 34.5
Free throw percentage: 71.6
Rebounding margin: +8.7
Steals per game: 5.1
Blocks per game: 5.1

And here are some more detailed statistics, courtesy of

Adjusted efficiency national rank (offense/defense): 118/61
Adjusted tempo national rank: 235
Average possession length: 17.5 seconds (No. 266 nationally)
Turnover percentage: 18.3 (No. 169)
Offensive rebound percentage: 30 (No. 177)
3-point percentage: 33.8 (No. 195)
2-point percentage: 55.0 (No. 15)
Block percentage: 8.7 (No. 154)
Opponent FT rate: 25.3 (No. 7)
Defensive footprint: Mostly man
So who will win? KenPom gives each team a 50 percent chance in this one.

Expected starters:
G: Brandon Taylor 8.6 ppg, 3.4 apg, 79.4 FT%
G: Lorenzo Bonam 10.1 ppg, 3.0 ap, 50.0 3FG%
G: Jordan Loveridge 11.3 ppg, 3.7 rbg, 40.4 3FG%
F: Kyle Kuzma 11.1 ppg, 5.9 rbg
C: Jakob Poeltl 16.3 ppg, 9.1 rbg, 64.3 FG%, 33 blocks
Injured players: Kenneth Ogbe is likely out with a groin injury.

Jacob Thorpe
Jacob Thorpe joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He currently is a reporter for the Sports Desk covering Washington State University athletics.

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