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The screenshot was sent shortly after Utah beat USC, reminding me how I had tweeted that the Utes “may not” win for a while after losing at home to Oregon State in their previous game.
That’s the nature of this Utah basketball season. Just when the Utes are trending well in Pac-12 play, they regress. And when they’re seemingly on the verge of crumbling, they get it together.
This would be another good time to do that. Utah’s 62-45 loss at Washington on Wednesday was even worse than the final score suggests. The Utes’ offensive performance, including a stretch of nearly 16 minutes between baskets, evoked snapshots of coach Larry Krystkowiak’s first season of 2011-12 — like the time Utah trailed Oregon 34-2.
With a choice of games to cover in person this week, I picked Saturday’s visit to Washington State, instead of the late tipoff in Seattle, where the Utes were overwhelmed. That looks like a good decision, so far. The next question is if Utah will get another shot at Washington in the Pac-12 tournament. I’ll examine that possibility elsewhere in this newsletter.
Looking back, this seven-day period started promisingly, with the Utes’ second victory over Arizona in their Pac-12 history (TRIB). Utah absolutely had to exploit this opportunity to beat the downtrodden Wildcats, and did so with a burst midway through the second half.
KSL.com’s Josh Furlong discussed a question posed to Krystkowiak by longtime Arizona Daily Star columnist Greg Hansen, a Logan native, about whether he felt sorry for Arizona coach Sean Miller amid the Wildcats’ struggles (KSL).
Defense keyed that 18-2 run against Arizona, so I followed up with a look at how the Utes have succeeded in key stretches of games (TRIB). And then Utah couldn’t stop Arizona State in a loss that dropped its record to 3-4 in Pac-12 home games (TRIB). Parker Van Dyke had a good response when asked about his team’s inconsistency (TRIB). Brad Rock of the Deseret News concluded the Utes just were not good enough to stay in second place in the Pac-12 (DNEWS).
With the Utes in the middle of an up-and-down season that’s unlikely to end in the NCAA Tournament, it seemed like a good time to gauge the fan base’s views on Krystkowiak. He has done some good work with this team, and throughout his tenure, but fans want more from him with a $3.4 million salary. As I point out, the research is anecdotal, but it is clear that fans are far more approving of football coach Kyle Whittingham, compared with Krystkowiak (TRIB).
So it could only be good that spring football is coming soon. Practice starts March 4 and ends April 13. Brett McMurphy is only one of many voters in the AP Top 25, but he’s a recognized college football writer. So it was significant that he made Utah No. 10 in his February rankings, amid some other outside observations I rounded up about the Utes (TRIB).
Pac-12 expert Jon Wilner looked at the state of Pac-12 South football (MERC), as the Utes prepare for their division-title defense.
The Utah women’s basketball season is in need of salvaging, going into this weekend’s last two home games. This has been a fun team to cover, with coach Lynne Roberts always delivering good quotes. She came through again in my story about the male students who are recruited to practice against her team (TRIB). And with future Ute guard Kemery Martin of Corner Canyon High School playing in this week’s Class 5A state tournament, Roberts revisited her recruitment (TRIB). Even with a six-game losing streak, and a horrible collapse Sunday at Arizona State, the Utes have a shot at the NCAA Tournament (ESPN).
Saturday is a big checkpoint in the Utah gymnastics season, with No. 2 UCLA coming to the Huntsman Center. The Utes have been busy lately, starting with a quad meet last Friday (TRIB). And then they scored 197-plus points Monday at Stanford, for a record eighth straight meet (TRIB).
Utah lacrosse team's travels continue this week, with games Saturday at Denver and Sunday at Air Force. Josh Stout scored five goals in last week's 14-10 loss at Hofstra and remains tied for third in the country with 5.0 goals per game.
Utah faded to 14th among 16 teams in a ,men's golf tournament this week at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif., but Kyler Dunkle produced a memorable start. He made an eagle, four birdies and a par in the first six holes on his way to an opening-round 68, spoiled by a double bogey on his last hole.
The Ute women's softball team takes a 5-5 record into a tournament at Palm Springs, Calif. The Utes lost to four ranked teams last weekend in Florida, before beating Hofstra.
The Utah baseball team went 1-2 against three different opponents in Texas State's event last week and is in San Diego this week. The Utes' game vs. Fresno State on Thursday has been canceled, due to forecasted weather, but they're scheduled to play San Diego State, Kansas State and San Diego the next three days.
Utah’s skiers are competing in Alaska in a meet that combines the RMISA Championships and the NCAA West Regional. Guro Jordheim has won her fifth Nordic race of the season.
The Pac-12 men's basketball tournament begins March 13 in Las Vegas. If the event started today, the Utes (14-12, 8-6) would have a top-four seed and a first-round bye. That goals remains in front of them, with four regular-season games remaining. The frightening part is how far Utah could fall, being only 1½ games ahead of ninth-place UCLA.
If the Utes drop to a No. 8 or 9 seed, they would be bracketed with No. 1 Washington in the quarterfinals. If they're No. 4 or 5, they wouldn't meet the Huskies until the semifinals.
Anything other than a winning record in Pac-12 play (and overall) this season would be a letdown for the Utes, after they stood 8-4 in conference play last week.