Utah is hot lately, vaulting them into the Top 25 before this matchup. We talked with Shane Roberts from Block U about what he's seen from the Utes so far this year, and what we can expect to see on Saturday.
1. This season would you say Utah has overachieved, underachieved, or done as much as you have expected them to?
Shane: To open the conference season, underachieved, as they started Pac-12 play 1-3, and were looking as sloppy as I’ve ever seen them. It was looking pretty bleak early, but Utah has really turned it around and has found themselves in contention for the regular season title, which is what we all expected. If it wasn’t for some bone-headed plays against Stanford and Oregon State, Utah would likely be in first, but that early start really hurt.
2. Last season, Jakob Poeltl was held to single-figures in both matchups. How much has he improved and what do you expect from him Saturday?
Shane: Jakob was a different player, and had a different role last year. Last year, it was all about Delon Wright, Utah’s All-American at point guard. Poeltl was a compliment to him, and was pretty inconsistent. This year, he is without a doubt the man, and maybe one of the front runners to win Pac-12 POY. He’s improved in virtually every area. He put on some weight, so he’s not as easily pushed around, he’s improved his free throw shooting dramatically, and is very reliable there. He’s also a much better passer out of the double team, and he’s just overall much more aggressive.
3. If you could add any Wildcat to the Utes, who would it be?
Shane: Tarczewski probably. I mean the ‘Cats have a lot of talent, but Tarczewski would help improve the depth behind Poeltl significantly. When Poeltl goes out, Utah fans hold their breath a little bit, because it’s a big drop off from him.
4. Utah will win this game because....
Shane: ...They’re due. ‘Zona has had Utah’s number, and now Utah is peaking at the right time. I think Poeltl will have a serious challenge ahead of him with Arizona’s front, but I think his passing and Utah’s shooting right now will be a big difference.
Shane: It’s going to be as hard-fought of a game we’ve seen all season. Arizona coming off the loss to Colorado, and Utah wanting to beat the Wildcats so badly. I like Utah this go around, 66-62 and finally get that Wildcat monkey off their back.
Thanks to Shane for taking the time to answer our questions! Be sure to check out Block U for all your Utah info!