A team that has yet to play meets another that has yet to play well when Utah hosts Washington in a Pacific-12 Conference men's basketball opener Thursday in Salt Lake City.
The game pairs teams at or near the bottom of last season's Pac-12 standings, with Utah having tied for eighth place at 7-11, while Washington finished last at 5-13.
They met once last season, when Utah rode a combined 53 points from Riley Battin (17), Rylan Jones (13), Timmy Allen (13) and Mikael Jantunen (10) to a 67-66 home win.
All four of the Utes' top scorers in that game return this year, led by Allen, who averaged team-highs in points (17.3) and rebounds (7.3) last season.
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak says depth will be one of his team's strengths this year.
"The times that we're going to have to play guys 36, 38 minutes are probably a thing of the past," he noted. "That should be a positive for us, and I hope our players understand that."
The team is also well rested, for what that's worth. Following nine positive COVID-19 tests during the early stages of preseason workouts last month, the Utes (0-0) had to cancel a scheduled non-conference opener against New Orleans last week and couldn't field a full team for a practice until last Friday.
Krystkowiak, who also tested positive during the off-season, announced this week that his squad is at full strength for the new season opener.
Meanwhile, Washington (0-2) switches over to conference play after getting roughed up in a pair of games in Las Vegas, falling 86-52 to second-ranked Baylor on Sunday and 57-42 to U.C. Riverside on Tuesday.
The Huskies have struggled mightily on offense as they attempt to replace last year's one-and-done standouts, Jaden McDaniels and Isaiah Stewart, who combined for 27 points in the narrow defeat at Utah in January.
Quade Green, last year's fourth-leading scorer at 11.6 points per game, and RaeQuan Battle, who averaged just 4.9 points last season, have been Washington's top point-producers in the first two games. Green went for 18 in the loss to Riverside.
"We're 0-2. That's where we're at," Green bluntly assessed after Tuesday's loss. "We just need to score more."
The Huskies, who flew straight to Salt Lake City after the Las Vegas games, have shot just 8-for-44 (18.2 percent) on 3-pointers so far.
--Field Level Media