Wright State (4-1) at Utah (3-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 24, 9:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jon M. Huntsman Center (15,000) -- Salt Lake City, Utah. Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: Wright State 1-0, Utah 3-1. Away Record: Wright State 2-0, Utah 0-0. Neutral Record: Wright State 1-1, Utah 0-0. Conference Record: Wright State 0-0, Utah 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: In the final game of the Utah Thanksgiving Tournament the Wright State Raiders will et their shot at the host Utah Utes when the two teams collide at the Jon M. Huntsman Center Saturday night.
In its first two games of the tournament, Wright State has both a win and a loss. On Wednesday the Raiders dropped a low-scoring affair to Central Michigan (59-55) before suffocating Idaho State (60-45) on Friday. The Raiders are 4-1 overall this season with a single home win and two others on the road. The Raiders return home in their next game to play Morehead State.
As the host of the tournament, Utah has used its homecourt advantage well with wins in both of its first two games. The Utes began with a 57-46 defeat of Idaho State before taking out Central Michigan last night (67-51). The Utes are 3-1 overall this season and have yet to hit the road. That will change in their next two games when the Utes face SMU and Texas State during a two-game swing through the Lone Star state.
When these squads tip off it will be for the first time ever.
Wright State was overly successful on offense on Friday night but didn't need to be. The Raiders held Idaho State to only nine total field goals and a 30.0 field goal percentage in the 15-point win. On the other side the Raiders shot a respectable 46.9 percent from the field and had only seven turnovers to the 15 it forced from the Bengals. Miles Dixon came off the bench to score 16 points, which led the team.
It is defensive efforts like that that have keyed Wright State's early season success. Opponents are scoring only 52.4 points per game and shooting 39.5 percent from the field when matched up with the Raiders. That has helped Wright State to overcome its rather weak scoring (61.4 ppg) and deficiencies on the glass (30.0 rpg). JT Yoho (12.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg) is the top option, although the Raiders have relied on a more balanced approach with seven different players scoring at least six points per game. One of those scorers s Cole Darling (10.0 ppg) who the Raiders have missed in the last three games for an undisclosed issue. Dixon (11.0 ppg) has yet to get a start but is playing 24.8 minutes per game and has made great use of that floor time. Reggie Arceneaux (7.0 ppg) has taken plenty of shots this season but needs to improve his efficiency (26.0 FG percentage) especially considering he plays the second most minutes on the roster.
Defense was also a key for Utah's win over Central Michigan as the Utes held the Chippewas under 30.0 percent shooting in the game including an 8-of-31 showing from 3-point range. On the other side the Utes hit on 49.0 percent of their shot attempts, mostly thanks o a 15-of-26 effort in the first half. Utah also managed to control the glass with a 41-32 advantage in rebounds. Jarred DuBois had a fine game with 20 points, five assists and five rebounds.
Efficiency on offense has been a real strength for Utah this season. The Utes are shooting at a 49.5 percent clip which is the top mark among teams in the Pac-12 and the 27th best rate in the country overall. Utah also rarely gets beat up on the boards as it averages 42.8 rebounds per game. Controlling the boards is part of the reason the team allowing only 54.5 points per game. Three different players are scoring in double figures this season while six total contributors have put in at least 7.5. Glen Dean (12.5 ppg) and Dallin Bachynski (12.5 ppg, 9.8 rpg) are tied for the team lead. Bachynski is a bulking center that creates matchup issues for smaller teams, finishes well at the rim and is a threat for a double-double every night. DuBois (12.0 ppg) is also scoring in double figures and has carved himself into the starting rotation.
This game should give a good indication of whether these teams are actually playing strong defense or if they have benefited from poor play from their competition. With that being said, Utah has enough offensive punch to overcome the Raiders.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Utah 70, Wright State 58
11/24 10:31:57 ET