8. Utah Utes (9-8, 3-2 Pac-12) LW: 10
Sitting at a record of 9-8, it would be difficult to call the Utah Utes’ season a success. Despite a 3-2 record in Pac-12 play, the Utes’ season has had triumphant moments.
With two freshmen in the starting lineup and two underclassmen coming off the bench as the team’s main contributors, the Utes have shown flashes of being a contender in the Pac-12.
In the team’s two recent games, we saw a look at the future in Salt Lake City as the Utes held leads of as large as 60-30 against Washington State and 51-23 against Colorado in two victories.
These sizable leads were largely built from the defensive end, where the Utes flipped turnovers into points on the opposite end. Against Colorado in the first half alone, Utah limited the Buffaloes to 19 points on 30 percent shooting while forcing 11 turnovers, including nine steals.
Whether it was adjustments on Colorado’s side of the ball or the young and inexperienced team letting off the gas, the Buffaloes crawled back into the game in a second half where they didn’t turn the ball over.
The lack of finishing in the 78-69 victory over Colorado shows a lack of experience on a team that lacks exactly that. Freshman forward Timmy Allen had a season-high 21 points and 10 rebounds while filling up the stat sheet with an additional four rebounds and three steals against Colorado. The play of the freshman largely covered up the poor play from centers Jayce Johnson and Novak Topalovic who combined to go 0-of-7 from the field.
The Utes’ season will rest largely on the development of their young players as they head to take on California and Stanford.