Las Vegas • Utes senior forward David Collette’s ankle bent sideways in the regular-season finale Saturday night.
It necessitated a trip to the hospital for X-rays, turned black and blue and swelled to the point he needed crutches to support his body weight. Somewhere between then and when his head hit the pillow that night, Collette made up his mind he’d play in the Pac-12 Tournament.
Utah’s 6-foot-10, 220-pound man in the middle who coach Larry Krystkowiak described as hobbled on the eve of the tournament, scored 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting in 19 minutes to keep his team’s Pac-12 title hopes alive until the final minute of a 68-66 loss to nemesis Oregon in the quarterfinals Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena.
The loss means the Utes now will await announcement of the NIT field Sunday night. They’re a likely candidate to host a game Tuesday or Wednesday.
“Did you see his ankle? There ain’t too many people that are going to be playing on that,” Krystkowiak said about Collette. “I give him a hell of a lot of credit. I give our training staff a hell of a lot of credit. That happened last Saturday, and I’ve never seen anything like it. We just needed him on the floor more than 17 or 18 minutes.”
Krystkowiak still was fuming as he spoke in the locker room following a two-point loss in which the Utes had a possession at the end of the game. The game ended with senior forward Tyler Rawson and Collette on the bench having fouled out with less than a minute and a half left.
The foul trouble — not the ankle that ballooned to the size of a melon immediately after the game — limited Collette’s playing time. He’d come to grips with playing through pain days earlier.
“I’m not sitting out my senior year in the Pac-12 Tournament,” Collette said. “It’s just not going to happen.”
The former Murray High standout finished the regular season on an offensive tear and led the Pac-12 in field goal percentage during conference play (65.3 percent) and earned all-conference honors. Collette has averaged 12.9 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.
Collette attacked the rim against a Ducks defense that featured the conference’s top shot blocker in Kenny Wooten. Collette and his badly sprained ankle got up for three second-half dunks, including one to give the Utes a 62-57 lead with 4:03 remaining.
Collette swooped in from across the paint moments later to block a shot by Ducks forward MiKyle McIntosh, who had bulled his way to the low post against Rawson, who was trying to avoid getting his fifth and final foul. Collette got called for a foul while defending McIntosh in the paint 15 seconds later. McIntosh made the layup and the free throw to put the Ducks up 68-66, which ended up the final score.
Collette, who had his ankle packed in ice and elevated as he answered questions, said he was proud of his teammates and how they played. He also described his mindset after suffering the injury in the season finale against Colorado.
“I mean, I knew [I’d play] Saturday after it happened,” Collette said. “I decided I just wasn’t sitting out. I made my mind up from the beginning. I was going to work on this thing, put in the work. I knew it was going to suck and it hurt, but I did what I had to do to get ready for today.”