Utah basketball: Utes’ offense finally heating up
College basketball • More patience, faster pace helping team in conference play.
Published: January 23, 2013 11:35PM
Updated: May 5, 2013 11:33PM
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Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak talks with Dallin Bachynski (31), Brandon Taylor (11) and Jarred DuBois (5) during a brief break in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, in Seattle. Utah won 74-65. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The number one on Larry Krystowiak’s chart after each game represents the worst of Utah’s shot selection. Every forced possession, each contested look that bounds off the rim can garner the worst rating from the coaching staff.

On the other end, the number five stands for the best offense, the wide-open shots, the patient shots that yield good results.

For the first two months, the number one was frequently used. For the past two weeks, the chart has been a lot more positive.

“We’ve been a lot more judicious,” Krystkowiak said.

Heading into Thursday night’s matchup with California at the Huntsman Center, the Utes are blossoming into a much better offensive basketball team.

The success is only two games old — after scoring 65 points last week against Washington State and 74 in a win over Washington.

But the Utah coaching staff is hoping that the better numbers are a trend that will continue, that all of the hollering and cajoling during practice is finally paying off.

“I think we’ve been a lot more patient, but at the same time a lot more willing to play at a faster pace,” senior forward Cedric Martin said. “We’ve taken open looks, and we’ve made shots in the last few games. We’ve definitely played better on that end of the floor.”

The improvement couldn’t have come at a better time for the Utes, who have been one of the best defensive teams in the country by surrendering just 57 points per game.

The issue, and the losing, stemmed from the fact that Utah couldn’t score. Krystkowiak’s team would get stops, but would always come up short offensively.

Against Washington, the Utes didn’t have a prolonged scoring drought for one of the first times all season. It resulted in a win because Utah scored whenever the Huskies were able to make a run.

“We played inside-out a lot more than we had,” Martin said. “We have to be patient and aggressive going forward. But we have two guys inside that can really score, and we have to be able to use that.”

Freshman point guard Brandon Taylor will likely see significant minutes with his improved play. Also, senior guard Jarred DuBois hasn’t practiced the last two days with an injury that hasn’t been disclosed.

DuBois is a gametime decision, Krystkowiak said. If he doesn’t play, look for Taylor to play an even more significant role, perhaps even as a starter.

“We still don’t know what Jarred’s status will be,” Krystkowiak said. “We just want to make sure that he’s OK before we go forward with whether he will play or not tomorrow.”

tjones@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tjonessltrib

California at Utah

O At the Huntsman Center

Tipoff • Thursday, 6:30 p.m.

TV • Pac-12 Network. Radio • 700 AM

Records • Utah 9-9, 1-5; Cal 10-7, 2-3

Series history • Cal leads 10-8

Last meeting • Cal 60, Utah 46 (Feb. 23, 2012)

About the Golden Bears • Allen Crabbe leads the league in scoring with 19.8 points per game. … California has dropped two of its last three games. … The Golden Bears lost to Stanford in their last outing. … Point guard Justin Cobb leads Cal with 4.1 assists per game.

About the Utes • Utah freshman Brandon Taylor is coming off a career-high 19-point game against Washington. … Utah leads the league in field-goal percentage defense at 37.2 percent. … Utah leads the league in assisted basket percentage. … Utah allows 59 points per game.