College basketball: Utah Utes get another shot at Sun Devils, Wildcats
By Steve Luhm
The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published Feb 11 2013 11:50PM
It was the cruelest road trip of Larry Krystkowiak’s tenure as coach at the University of Utah.
In January, the Utes opened Pac-12 play in Arizona, where nobody gave them any chance against two of the top teams in the conference.
Instead of meekly losing to Arizona State and Arizona, however, Utah nearly pulled off a sweep. ASU needed overtime to score its 55-54 win before Arizona rallied for a 60-57 victory over the Utes.
Although the results should give Utah confidence in this week’s rematches against the Sun Devils and Wildcats, Krystkowiak downplays the impact of games played six weeks ago.
"That’s something that you know in the back of your mind — that you were right there on their home courts," Krystkowiak said. "But I think it’s a little risky to try and use that as encouragement."
The Utes face Arizona State (18-6, 7-4) on Wednesday night at 6 p.m. They play ninth-ranked Arizona (20-3, 8-3) on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Utah is 10-13 overall and 2-9 in the conference after a 73-64 loss at Oregon. The Utes owned a 30-22 halftime lead before the 23rd-ranked Ducks rallied.
According to Krystkowiak, Utah must bring the "desperation mode" it has shown on the road into the games against ASU and Arizona.
"We haven’t necessarily had that same kind of energy at home," he said, "and that’s troublesome."
Call for defense
Utah allowed 51 second-half points against Oregon.
"If you turn the ball over and don’t run back on defense, that’s a five-point swing," Krystkowiak said. "That’s the two points you didn’t get and the three they get. ...
"If you’ve got a couple of guys jogging back on defense — backpedaling against [teams like] the University of Oregon — they are going to stuff it down your throat."
Little, big things
Krystkowiak called Utah’s early loss at Arizona State one of his team’s best efforts of the season.
The Sun Devils needed a late offensive rebound and 3-point shot just to reach overtime.
"I remember that game coming down to a few 50-50 balls, loose balls and rebounds," he said, noting it was a learning experience for the young Utes.
"Sometimes it comes down to so-called little things that end up being big things."