Utah’s Larry Krystkowiak and BYU’s Nick Emery on good terms after text message exchange

Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak shouts to his team in the second half during an NCAA college basketball game against BYU Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The fireworks that took place in the last meeting between the Utah and BYU men’s basketball teams were apparently put to bed on a holiday celebrated with fireworks.

Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak and BYU basketball player Nick Emery, who withdrew from school prior to season opener, hashed out their differences via a text message exchange initiated on the Fourth of July. Krystkowiak acknowledged during his weekly news conference on Tuesday that a reconciliation had taken place.

“It was pretty cool,” Krystkowiak said. “Fourth of July while I was at a great friend’s ranch spending time with my family, I got a random text message. I wasn’t sure what to think about it. As you can imagine, over the last 18 months I’ve gotten a few text messages from a variety of different people.”

Utah at BYU<br>When • Saturday, 9 p.m.<br>TV • ESPN2

The Utes and Cougars will play Saturday night in Provo for the first time since the 2015 game which led to the annual series getting cancelled by Krystkowiak. That cancellation came in the aftermath of Emery being ejected for punching then-Utes guard Brandon Taylor in the final minutes of a Utes victory in the Jon M. Huntsman Center.

Krystkowiak said it wasn’t until he heard from a BYU assistant coach to verify that the message came from Emery that he responded.

“He was super sincere about how he was growing up and didn’t handle it right and that he has felt bad for quite a long time,” Krystkowiak said. “Kudos to him for reaching out. To be honest with you, if that had happened a little bit earlier — this is no disrespect to him — we wouldn’t ever have taken any time off. That was part of the holding pattern. I was waiting to see what would take place before I kind of got my undies in a bunch and wanted to put an end [to] it.”

While Emery will not be with the team this season, Krystkowiak said he thinks Emery has grown up and it was good to have that conversation through via text message and move forward.

A break for the women

The Utah women’s basketball team began a stretch of nine days without a game following Saturday’s 77-68 loss at BYU. They next play on Monday against Utah State in Logan.

Utes coach Lynne Roberts said she goes into road games against BYU and Utah State knowing that her team takes on the role of “the hunted” when playing in-state rivals. She feels strong about playing games on the road against highly-motivated in-state opponents even though she admits it probably both hurts and helps her team.

“It would be silly for us not to play them, these games,” Roberts said. “But I say that understanding the risk. I think our job as coaches is to get our team ready to play whoever we’re playing. If we come into it and we take them a little more lightly than we should, then we deserve to lose. That’s why you play the games. … I think it’s good for our sport. My objective here at Utah is to make women’s basketball relevant. I think playing regional games, local games, I think that matters.”