The turnaround in the Pac-12 between games on Thursday and Saturday can be a difficult thing for conference teams to navigate. There are injury concerns, tired legs to deal with, and not enough time to prepare for the back-end opponent.
For Utah? This arrangement couldn’t have come at a better juncture.
There is no time for the Utes to lament their 70-68 overtime loss to No. 10 Oregon on Thursday. There’s no time to wallow in what could have been. Larry Krystkowiak’s team has less than 48 hours to get ready for Oregon State. Normally a devastating defeat like the one Utah suffered could linger. In this case, there’s little room for the mind to wander.
“We told ourselves that win or lose we weren’t going to celebrate or get too down,” Krystkowiak said. “We know that we have to just get over it. The Pac-12 is like the NBA in that we have to get ready for games that are very close together. So it’s important that we get focused on Oregon State. We have to get right back on the horse again.”
Krystkowiak began the healing process almost immediately after the final buzzer. He spoke to his team and told them they played a great game. He told them that the turnover leading to Damyean Dotson’s game-winning dunk is easily fixable. Not long after that, the Ute coach and his staff raced upstairs to look at Oregon State film.
“We know that we have to get ready for the Beavers and that we can’t dwell on this,” Utah forward Jordan Loveridge said. “We know that we can play and compete with anyone in the league. We have to focus on OSU. It’s a big game and we don’t want to have a start like last season.”
Loveridge — as much as anyone on the roster — knows that losses can snowball in a league as competitive as the Pac-12. Last season the Utes began league play on the road and lost their first two games by four points, their first three by eight points and by the time they righted things with a win over Washington, they were 0-5 in the league.
That’s what makes the contest with Oregon State so important. With road games next week at the Washington schools, Utah needs to avoid the snowball effect.
“We have to get some wins in the league to keep our confidence level high,” Loveridge said.
Making shots would be a good way to do that. It says something about the Utes’ defense that they were able to shoot 38 percent from the field and 3 for 19 from 3-point range — and still be in position to beat the No. 10 team in the country.
At the same time, fixing the offense and doing it quickly will be a priority for Utah going forward.
Oregon State at Utah
O At the Huntsman Center. Tipoff • Saturday, 2 p.m.
TV • Pac-12 Network. Radio • 700 AM
Records • Oregon State 8-5, 0-1 Pac-12; Utah 11-2, 0-1 Pac-12
Last meeting • Utah 72, Oregon State 61 (March 7, 2013)
About the Beavers • Power forward Eric Moreland, who was suspended all season, made his debut on Thursday against Colorado. … OSU guard Roberto Nelson has received two Pac-12 player of the week honors this season. … Oregon State is eighth nationally in field goal percentage. … Nelson and Devon Collier are the highest scoring duo in the Pac-12.
About the Utes • Utah is looking for its first conference win of the season. … Dallin Bachynski played a season-high 30 minutes against Oregon. … Utah saw a 13 game home winning streak snapped against the Ducks. … The Utes split two meetings last season against the Beavers. … Utah averages 19 assists per game, second nationally.