After getting back on track with a blowout victory over Manhattan, Utah will try to build some pre-holiday momentum on the road Saturday afternoon against Missouri in Columbia, Mo.
The Utes (7-3) hammered Manhattan 96-62, then had a week of practice before facing the Tigers (5-5).
“Fine tune a few things, we hope we can get healthy this week and get ready to be road warriors at Missouri,” Utah coach Craig Smith said.
Utah had lost three of four games before regrouping against Manhattan.
“We had a very good look to us,” Smith said. “Really shared the ball, that’s a big thing for this team. Got back to playing the way that we need to play to win. Did a good job protecting the paint, made some 3s, 10-for-18 from the three… I thought we took great shots all night. We really got downhill, pass, pass, attack.”
The Utes got out of sorts with Marco Anthony (ankle), Dusan Mahorcic (knee) and Bostyn Holt (knee) sidelined by injuries. Moreover, leading scorer Branden Carlson (13.7 points per game) missed most of the team’s Dec. 1 loss at Southern California with an ankle injury.
Carlson returned for Utah’s next game and Anthony, who leads the team with 7.4 rebounds per game, was back in action against Manhattan. Mahorcic is on the verge of returning to the lineup, but Holt is lost for the season.
“In a way we had to start over,” Smith said. “All of sudden four guys going out in, like literally in a matter of whatever days. … We had a stretch there were we just played lineups that never played, relearning ourselves, going through a lot of different things with a young team and inexperience.”
Utah will have a significant advantage inside with the 7-foot Carlson, the 6-10 Mahorcic and the 6-10 Lahat Thioune — who scored a career-high 16 points in 13 minutes against Manhattan.
Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin has primarily used a smaller lineup with 6-8 Kobe Brown defending opposing centers. Brown, who leads the team with 13.8 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, is also one of the team’s primary ballhandlers.
When Brown got in foul trouble during Missouri’s 102-65 loss at Kansas, the Tigers unraveled.
“It’s tough from the standpoint that a lot of things flow through him, and whether he’s scoring the ball or not, you flow through him and you can move the ball,” Martin said. “What makes him good is not necessarily how many shots he takes but the other things he does. He rebounds the ball, he can get other guys shots and opportunities.”
–Field Level Media