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Streaking Utah tips off Pac-12 play vs. Wazzu


Utah can keep its momentum going when it opens Pac-12 Conference play by hosting Washington State on Friday in Salt Lake City.

The Utes (9-2) have won six straight games heading into the Pac-12 portion of their schedule, the longest winning streak Utah enjoyed during nonleague play since the 2014-15 season. Utah won at least nine games in nonconference play for the first time since the 2019-20 season.

“We’ve taken care of a lot of things. We’ve had some good wins,” Utah coach Craig Smith said.

Utah capped off its nonconference slate with an 85-43 win over Bellarmine on Dec. 20. The Utes scored 28 points off 23 turnovers and held the Knights to six second-half field goals. Eleven different players scored for Utah, led by Lawson Lovering with 17 points.

“I thought we did a really good job of communication,” Smith said. “It might have been our best game of the year the way we communicated as a team.”

Washington State (9-2) also generated considerable momentum as a team in nonconference play. The Cougars won seven of their past eight games while holding five opponents to 61 or fewer points in that stretch.

A 66-61 win over Boise State on Dec. 21 capped off nonconference play for Washington State. Isaac Jones scored five of his team-high 21 points in final 90 seconds to help the Cougars hold off the Broncos. Jones has scored in double figures in 10 of 11 games this season.

The game featured nine ties and eight lead changes in the second half.

“That one went kind of to script,” Washington State coach Kyle Smith said. “That’s about what I expected. It was going to be a really hard, tough game.”

The game at Utah will be Washington State’s first true road contest of the season. The Utes have dominated the series historically, winning 16 of 20 matchups between the two teams since joining the Pac-12 in 2011-12. Utah swept the season series a year ago.

–Field Level Media

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