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Utah basketball: Utes seeking improvement as Pac-12 play looms

Utah has habit of surrendering leads in second half.

First Published Dec 27 2012 01:50 pm • Last Updated Dec 29 2012 03:52 pm

Larry Krystkowiak knows what this Utah team could be.

He also knows what his Utes have accomplished and that his rebuilding project still has a ways to go.

At a glance

College basketball College of Idaho at Utah

O At the Huntsman Center

Tipoff » Friday, 7:30 p.m.

TV » Pac-12 Network. Radio » 700 AM

Records » Utah 7-4; College of Idaho 7-8

Series history » First meeting

About the Yotes » College of Idaho won the NAIA national title in 1996. … Sydney Donaldson has averaged 15 points over his last four games.

About Utah » The Utes already have won more games than all of last season. … Utah outscores its opponents by an average of 11 points per game. … Utah surrenders just 58.9 points per game. … Jason Washburn has scored 10 or more points in four of the last five games.

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With one game remaining before the Pac-12 Conference schedule begins — Friday at the Huntsman Center against the College of Idaho — Utah has a 7-4 record. That’s good but not great.

It’s knowing the Utes are three blown second-half leads from being 10-1 that hurts.

"We are what we are," Krystkowiak said. "People tend to want the bottom line and not the whole story, so we have to keep improving, keep playing and keep trying to get better."

Heading into Friday, the Utes have surrendered double-digit advantages to Sacramento State, BYU and Cal State Northridge. They have accomplished this by panicking in clutch situations, turning the ball over in bulk and playing loose defense down the stretch of games.

Surrendering that 21-point lead to the Matadors was especially troubling, as Utah turned what should’ve been a resounding win into a crushing defeat.

"We’ve had a week to think about that," senior guard Jarred DuBois said. "We have to work on ourselves and make sure we do the things needed so this never happens again. If we get a big lead in conference play, we have to make sure that we finish."

Krystkowiak said he liked the intensity of practice Wednesday and Thursday. He also said he may change his playing rotation, although he wasn’t specific about which tweaks he would like to make.

However, Utah is rapidly becoming Jordan Loveridge’s team. The freshman forward scored a career-high 24 points last Friday, and is becoming more aggressive offensively as the season progresses.


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College of Idaho is not expected to mount a big challenge to the Utes. The NAIA Yotes are playing a Division I team for the first time since the 2010 season.

"This game is more about us and what we do," Krystkowiak said. "We have to put ourselves in position to be successful. We have to play well defensively and execute on offense. We have the Pac-12 Conference right around the corner, and we have to put ourselves in position to be ready for what’s about to come."

tjones@sltrib.com



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