Turnovers stop any momentum you’ve built and simultaneously spark your opponent by giving them extra possessions and transition scoring opportunities. It’s also a good way to end up on the wrong end of highlight-reel plays in the open court.
The Utah men’s basketball team hopes to avoid the turnover bug that briefly plagued it on Friday night when it hosts Mississippi Valley State at 7 p.m. Monday in the Jon M. Huntsman Center.
The Utes (1-0) overcame a turnover-prone first half in the opener. They committed 12 first-half turnovers and 19 total, which led to 20 points for visiting Prairie View A&M in Friday night’s season opener.
“The only way I can describe it is it just kind of sucks the life out of you,” Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak said of the turnovers. “Defensively, it kind carried over to that end in the first half, but we talked about it. It’s a mature group. They understand what they need to do. We made a few adjustments with their press, and then came out and had a really good probably 10 minutes of the second half.”
Whether it was a lackadaisical 10-foot bounce pass by Sedrick Barefield that led to a steal and layup or Parker Van Dyke getting caught in the air and throwing a pass toward the opposing team’s bench, Utah found ways to stifle itself as Prairie View pulled within three points late in the first half.
However, the “mindless” turnovers, as Krystkowiak described them, were fairly easily corrected. Those miscues were frustrating but not ultimately costly as the Utes ran away with a 21-point win. They can be chalked up to a learning experience, provided the Utes don’t turn those sorts of sloppy plays into a habit.
“That’s why we schedule these games early, we learn how to deal with pressure and newer guys — they can feel that exposure,” senior forward Tyler Rawson said. “Moving forward when Pac-12 play comes, it’s under our belt and we know how to handle it if teams want to do that against us. Moving forward, I think it’s going to be beneficial.”
Part of those early hiccups can certainly be credited to Friday night being the Utes’ first taste of defensive pressure in the backcourt and a defense that gambles in pursuit of steals. The Utes are not a high-pressure defensive team, so as Krystkowiak pointed out after Friday’s game, the players had limited exposure to that style of defense during the preseason.
The Utes also will be integrating some new pieces into the backcourt with the losses of Lorenzo Bonam, JoJo Zamora and Devon Daniels as well as the additions of newcomers Justin Bibbins and Kolbe Caldwell. Bibbins and Barefield combined for nine turnovers, while Caldwell and Van Dyke committed two apiece.
“It’s just a different feel than we’re used to,” Barefield said. “We haven’t really put in a lot of press stuff until a couple days ago, so it’s just a different feel and we got a better feel for it in the second half as far as attacking the first line. I think we were a little hesitant in the first half.”
MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE AT UTAH
Tipoff • Monday, 7 p.m.
TV • Pac-12 Network
Radio • 700 AM
Records • MSVU 0-1, Utah 1-0
Series history • First meeting
About the Delta Devils • MVSU will be playing its second game of a three-game Beehive State tour that features contests at BYU, Utah and Utah State. … Junior point guard Tereke Eckwood led MVSU with 16 points in its season opener against BYU, while small forward Dante Scott added 13 points and went 3 for 3 from behind the 3-point line. … MVSU goes into this season projected to finish ninth in the 10-team SWAC, the same conference that includes Prairie View A&M.
About the Utes • The Utes are coming off of an 83-62 season-opening win at home against Prairie View A&M. Utes junior guard Sedrick Barefield led all scorers with 22 points. … The Utes were picked seventh in the Pac-12 preseason media poll. They lost four starters from last year’s team, but return 10 players, including senior forward/center David Collette (13.6 ppg and 5.1 rpg last season). … The Utes shot 51.8 percent from the floor in their opener despite making just 25 percent of their 3-pointers.