CU women’s basketball preview: Utah
MATCHUP: Colorado Buffaloes (12-8, 2-7 Pac-12) at Utah Utes (13-7, 2-7 Pac-12)
GAME TIME: Saturday, 12:30 p.m., at Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City
BROADCAST: TV – Pac-12 Networks. Radio – ESPN 1600 AM
COACHES: Colorado – JR Payne, 1st season (12-8 at CU; 113-121 career). Utah – Lynne Roberts, 2nd season (31-22 at Utah; 252-197 career).
LEADERS: Colorado – Scoring: G Kennedy Leonard, So., 18.6 ppg; Rebounding: F Haley Smith, Sr., 5.8 rpg; Assists: Leonard, 5.6 apg. Utah – Scoring: F Emily Potter, Jr., 15.1 ppg; Rebounding: Potter, 8.8 rpg; Assists: G Erika Bean, So., 5.9 apg.
NOTABLE: This is the second of two games between the teams this week. CU won, 54-49, on Wednesday in Boulder to snap a five-game losing streak. … Kennedy Leonard had 24 points and a career-high nine rebounds in the win. … CU leads the all-time series 15-14. … In Pac-12 play, CU and Utah have been the two least productive offenses in the conference. CU is 11th in scoring (60.6 points per game), while Utah is 12th (56.4). Utah is 11th in field goal percentage (35.8) and CU is 12th (33.6).
Typically, Colorado women’s basketball coach JR Payne gets done with a game and moves on to the next opponent.
During the last couple of days, Payne has had the task of preparing for the same opponent.
On Saturday, the Buffaloes (12-8, 2-7 Pac-12) will visit Utah (13-7, 2-7) in a rematch of Wednesday’s 54-49 CU win in Boulder.
“I can just watch our game,” Payne joked about her film preparation for Saturday’s game.
The Buffs would love to duplicate the result from Wednesday, as they snapped a five-game skid by beating the Utes. Payne also realizes that both teams will make adjustments ahead of the rematch.
“It kind of becomes a chess match a little bit, which is really fun as a coach to see what we can do in three days from now,” Payne said after Wednesday.
“I think the biggest thing is just … don’t get too creative. If something was working, go for it; stay with that. Build on your strengths and try to figure out what our weaknesses were (Wednesday) and try to fix those type of things.”
CU played solid defense on Wednesday, especially against Utah leading scorer Emily Potter, who was held to six points. Normally one of the top shooters and scorers in the Pac-12, Potter made just two of nine shots.
“It’s been rare in her career that she’s gone for less than 10 two nights in a row, so I would expect a really concerted effort to get the ball inside, for her to be really aggressive,” Payne said.
In addition to trying to stop Potter again, the Buffs hope to repeat their rebounding effort from Wednesday, when they out-boarded the Utes 48-37. On the flip side, they hope to cut down on their 18 turnovers and improve their 30.6 percent shooting.
Trying to beat the same team twice in a row won’t be easy, but that makes this a challenge the Buffs are excited to face.
“It’s fun to match up against them again,” point guard Kennedy Leonard said. “It adds another element of competition.”
Brian Howell: email@example.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.