The Utes beat Stanford 57-56 Saturday on what would have been Senior Night if not for the Utes losing their two seniors over the course of the season.
In my game story I pointed out that it was fitting, that in the absence of any outgoing players, the Utes' two veterans carried the load. Junior Chris Hines finished with 19 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 27.3 seconds remaining, while junior Jason Washburn scored 17 points and recorded six blocks.
A story that most us missed last night, though, was that Josh Watkins, the starting point guard Larry Krystkowiak kicked off the team in January, was in attendance.
"We didn't have any seniors but thought it was still pretty neat," Krystkowiak told ESPN 700 in his postgame radio interview. "Jiggy was here and Jiggy's mom was here."
Earlier this year Lisa Watkins told The Tribune that she intended to fly out and surprise her son for Senior Night.
After Krystkowiak dismissed Watkins, who led the team in scoring, the coach said he hoped the brash point guard would remain in school and get his degree. From the sounds of things, Watkins is doing just that.
"One of the things that probably makes me feel as good as anything about the whole thing," Krystkowiak said, "was they came into [Athletic Director Chris] Hill's office, Jiggy and his mom, and thanked him for everything and thanked us for taking care of business and for doing the right thing. And he's going to stay and get his degree. It's a sad story, would have liked to honor him on senior night, but I think he's got his ducks in a row and he's ready for life after basketball."
Other notes • The San Francisco Chronicle recaps Saturday's game, saying, "Stanford found out what happens when you let a bad team gain momentum. Sometimes the bad team wins."
In Tempe, Arizona State got a 3-point play from Chris Colvin with 19 seconds left to carry the Sun Devils to a 56-52 win over USC. The Trojans loss put them two games behind Utah for 11th place and all but guarantees that Utah will avoid finishing in last place. USC hosts Washington and Washington State next week.
And, finally, Tribune columnist Gordon Monson says Saturday's win is proof that Krystkowiak has the Utes on the right track.
— Bill Oram
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