DIAMOND HEAD CLASSIC PREVIEW: Utah Utes

CougCenter is your place to be for everything related to the Diamond Head Classic. This is the first of eight capsule previews of the participating teams.

Head Coach: Jim Boylen (42-24, fourth year)

Record: 7-3 (No. 108 Kenpom.com)

Best victory: 86-84 over No. 93 Boise State (home)

Worst loss: 78-70 to No. 133 Oral Roberts (home) 

Offense: 103.7 adjusted efficiency (105th); 48.7 eFG% (171st), 20.5 TO% (139th), 30.4 OR% (243rd), 47.9 FTR (24nd)

The Utes have an above average offensive squad, and that can be almost entirely attributed to free throws.  They aren't good shooters, they don't get many offensive rebounds, and they don't take care of the ball particularly well.  However, they are 24th in the nation in free throw rate and convert 72.9% of their opportunities.  They play at a pretty fast tempo of 70.7 possessions a game.

Josh Watkins takes the bulk of the shots, but has not been very efficient, posting a 92.5 ORtg.  He also is the team's leading distributor with a 30.4 assist rate.  Josh has the ball in his hands most of the time he is on the floor.  The team's best offensive player is 6-7 Will Clyburn.  He's an excellent three point shooter at 42%, gets to the line with a 51.3 free throw rate, and rarely turns the ball over.

Defense: 97.5 adjusted efficiency (112th); 46.4 eFG% (106th), 19.0 TO% (269th), 32.7 OR% (177th), 40.7 FTR (219th)

Utah doesn't force a lot of turnovers and they allow the other team to get to the free throw line quite often.  They defend the three point shot reasonably well, allowing just 31.7% from the beyond the arc.  They also block quite a few shots, which can be mostly attributed to 7-footer Jason Washburn.  Washburn ranks 119th in the country with a 7.1 Block%. 

Will Clyburn is more than just an offensive threat, he makes an impact on the defensive end as well.  He posts a very good 19.6 DR% and a 3.3 steal%.

Overall, Utah is a longshot to win this tournament.  Kenpom gives the Utes just a 19% chance to get by their opening round opponent, Butler.  If they pull off that upset, they will likely have to beat an even better Florida State team to get to the title.  I'd expect them to drop their first round matchup, beat Hawaii in the consolation bracket, then fall in the fifth place game and finish 6th with a 1-2 record.

Check out CougCenter's full coverage of the Diamond Head Classic here.

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