Oregon State is 2-10 on the season and winless in the Pac-12, with a pair of double-digit losses in the conference, so far this season. Don’t expect Utah to overlook the Beavers when they visit Corvallis on Thursday, however.
Utah Utes vs. Oregon State Beavers
Thursday, December 30, 2021 – 09:00 PM EST at Gill Coliseum
A similarly weak-looking Oregon State team swept the Utes last season, including a 74-56 win in Corvallis. That game vaulted the Beavers from a .500 record as of mid-February to a run to the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight. A Utah team that had postseason hopes, meanwhile, lost six of its last nine games.
Utah is 8-4 this season and has split two Pac-12 games. The Utes won their first five, including neutral-site victories over Tulsa and Boston College, but they’ve lost four of the last seven, with losses to BYU, USC and TCU coming by double digits.
Oregon State snapped a 10-game losing streak with a 22-point win over Nicholls State in its last game. The Beavers lost by three in overtime to Wake Forest but otherwise have not come within single digits of a power conference opponent. Losing to Penn State, Cal, Arizona and Texas A&M by an average of 15.5 points.
Rose Bowl Appetizer
The Utah fanbase is likely focused on the football team’s Rose Bowl matchup on Saturday, but the Pac-12 showdown with Oregon State will serve as an appetizer for that game. The basketball team might also be looking ahead to Saturday, with a game against Oregon tipping off shortly after the Rose Bowl does.
The Utes have been struggling lately, both on the court and in its battle against COVID. Like just about everyone else, Utah has lost players to positive tests. Center Branden Carlson, who leads the Utes in scoring at 13.9 ppg and rebounding at 6.1 rpg, has missed the last two games—against Missouri and Fresno State. He cleared the protocol and practiced this week.
First-year coach Craig Smith hopes that the COVID cloud is clearing from his program. “It was crazy having practice and actually being able to plan on 13 guys fully participating in practice,” Smith said. “I don’t think that’s been the case in our program since November. It was good to see.”
The team is still without center Dusan Mahorcic, who is out with a knee injury and still not close to a return.
Back in Action
Oregon State got an unexpected extension to its holiday break, and, surprisingly, it wasn’t due to COVID. Tuesday’s scheduled game against Sacramento State was pushed to next Monday, due to bad weather, which gives the Beavers a nine-day break between games.
The Beavers seem to be trending up in recent games. They've hit more than half of their shots just once in the first 10 games but have topped the 50 percent mark in each of the last two games. Jarod Lucas is leading the way from outside. He’s hit 16 of his last 29 three-point attempts over the last four games.
Oregon State also has two of the top shot blockers in the Pac-12 in Warith Alatishe and Ahmad Rand. The Beavers also have two other big men in the rotation in 6-foot-10 Maurice Calloo and 7-foot-1 Roman Silva.
The Beavers will be without 6-foot-8 senior Rodrigue Andela, who broke a bone in his foot in late November. They’ve also been playing without Gianni Hunt, who has missed the last three games due to personal reasons.
Utah will get a boost from the return of Branden Carlson, who will help even out Oregon State’s interior presence. They’ll also have a boost from getting to practice regularly for the last week. Not only that but remember, for your NCAAB pick, that the Utes will be motivated to get payback against the Beavers after last season’s home and road losses.
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