SALT LAKE CITY — Streak, albeit a small one, is within Utah’s grasp Friday night in the Huntsman Center.
The Utes (5-5) can secure back-to-back wins for the first time this season if they follow Monday’s 93-64 victory over Florida A&M with a triumph over Northern Arizona (2-7).
Utah’s second-to-last non-conference game carries a sense of urgency. The Utes host national powerhouse Nevada on Dec. 29 before opening Pac-12 play the first week of January.
“We just try to go out there and play our best every single day. I definitely think that we’re headed in the right direction,” said senior guard Sedrick Barefield. “We’ve made some strides and we’re sharing the ball a lot better. We’re playing man-to-man defense, which is helping us be more locked in. So I think that those changes are helping us get better and we just have to keep getting better every single day.”
The Pac-12 is open, he continued, and the Utes know what they’re capable of doing.
“We know that we haven’t been playing our best basketball and it’s been tough,” Barefield said. “But I believe in our guys. I believe in their talent and their skill level.”
The future is bright, he added.
“If we can get these next two and get it rolling before conference, we’re going to be in a pretty good spot,” said freshman Timmy Allen.
Senior guard Parker Van Dyke had a career-high 20 points Monday as the Utes bounced back from a lopsided loss at Kentucky on Saturday. He said they’ve got to be a little more patient as a team because of the learning curve involved with a young squad.4 comments on this story
“But I think overall we’re going in a good direction and hopefully we can pick up some consistency and win on Friday — get our first back-to-back wins of the season,” Van Dyke said.
EXTRA STUFF: This is just the second meeting between Utah and Northern Arizona. The Utes defeated the Lumberjacks 85-52 in the Huntsman Center in 1994 . . . Northern Arizona has lost six straight games . . . Since the 2013-14 season, Utah is 20-0 at home in December.
Northern Arizona (2-7) at Utah (5-5)
Friday, 7 p.m.
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Radio: ESPN 700AM