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By now, Utah basketball fans understand that watching their team play is both frustrating and rewarding. Ute coach Larry Krystkowiak says he has never been involved with a college team that experiences as many in-game streaks, positively and negatively.
The Utes were up to their usual stuff in Thursday’s 77-70 win at USC, where they had to agonize more than necessary in the last few minutes. Yet their 23-point lead midway through the second half was amazing, against a team that was 5-0 in Pac-12 home games.
This, too, is remarkable: If the Utes win Saturday at UCLA, they will have swept all four of the conference's California schools on the road. That would be quite an achievement for a team that has lost three home games in league play. The Utes fell to Oregon last week after losing a 14-point lead in the first half, and they allowed a 14-0 run by Oregon State. And then they built a 20-point advantage over USC in the first half.
That’s life in the Pac-12 this season. The Utes (12-10, 6-4) are tied for fourth place, a half-game out of second place — but only two games ahead of 10th-place Colorado.
Our stories of the past week
The Ute football team almost certainly will receive the program’s first preseason AP Top 25 ranking of this decade, and will be in the national conversation in 2019. But is Utah’s schedule strong enough to build any College Football Playoff credentials? (TRIB)
The buildup to the Utes’ February football signing period revolved around a lineman who grew up in London and a running back from southern California. (TRIB)
The Utes’ recruiting class was said to hinge on those two players, and they’re coming to Utah. (TRIB)
Former Ute star Trevor Reilly contends the Salt Lake Stallions will put a good product on the field in the Alliance of American Football, starting Sunday at Arizona. (TRIB)
Utah’s gymnastics team finished strong against Arizona, again topping the 197-point mark. (TRIB)
The men’s basketball team’s loss to Oregon was disappointing, mainly because of how good the Utes looked at the start. (TRIB)
In advance of Oregon State’s visit, Krystkowiak recalled his recruitment of OSU star Tres Tinkle, stemming from their days together in Montana. (TRIB)
And then Tinkle spoiled what was shaping up as Utah’s phenomenal comeback against the Beavers, on a day when the school honored the late Jon M. Huntsman Sr. (TRIB)
Utah’s sweep at the hands of the Oregon schools and falling to a three-way tie for fifth place created a rather bleak forecast as the Utes looked toward the second half of Pac-12 play. (TRIB)
Krystkowiak said the solution would be simple; the Utes just needed to stop turning the ball over. (TRIB)
Utah then blistered USC for the first 30 minutes Thursday and had enough cushion to secure the victory, with Parker Van Dyke hitting a key shot. (TRIB)
The Ute lacrosse team entered its debut with big ambitions and reasonable expectations. (TRIB)
After the Utes lost 21-6 to Vermont, coach Brian Holman was more disappointed abut how his team played than about the score. (TRIB)
Stories from elswhere
Pac-12 expert Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News explored how Oregon and Washington have maximized their California recruiting opportunities in football. (MERC)
Trent Wood of the Deseret News looked into Ute gymnast MyKayla Skinner’s 2020 Olympics possibilities. (DNEWS)
Dirk Facer caught up to Dusty Baker, the featured speaker at the Utes’ annual preseason baseball banquet. (DNEWS)
• Having staged the program’s inaugural game at Rice-Eccles Stadium, the Ute lacrosse team will move to Judge Memorial’s McCarthey Stadium for its remaining home contests of 2019. Utah will host Mercer at noon Saturday. The opener drew 3,215 fans. Mercer, a Georgia school that went 4-10 last season, lost 20-9 at No. 14 North Carolina last week.
• Picked to finish seventh in the nine-team Pac-12, the Ute softball team will open the season this weekend in Arizona State’s tournament. Utah will meet Western Michigan and Missouri on Friday, Cal State Northridge and Kansas on Saturday and Bradley on Sunday.
UCLA was voted the Pac-12 favorite, with Washington a close second.
• The Utah men’s and women’s ski team’s next competition is the Alaska Anchorage Invitational and RMISA Championships, beginning Feb. 17. The Utes claimed their second meet victory of the season last weekend in the New Mexico Invitational, with Nordic skier Guro Jordheim winning her fourth freestyle race.