The University of Utah had one day to prepare between Thursday’s win over Oregon State and Saturday’s visit from No. 4 Oregon.
How much one can get done in that amount of time, and how they get it all in, is a topic of debate. Larry Krystkowiak has been at this coaching thing for a while now, so the Utes head coach didn’t hesitate when asked what his plan was with such a quick turnaround.
Assistant coach Andy Hill had the Oregon State scouting duties ahead of Thursday’s 81-69 win over the Beavers, but assistant Tommy Connor had been working on an Oregon scout for about a week. When Thursday’s game ended, Krystkowiak had an extensive video edit on the Ducks at his disposal.
“There’s certain teams in the league where you might have a new coach, new styles, but [Oregon head coach] Dana [Altman] has been doing it an awful long time,” Krystkowiak said. “They don’t change a whole lot, it’s a lot of similar stuff; but we’ve struggled with Oregon in certain capacities, dealing with pressure.”
On Friday afternoon, the Utes met at the practice facility for what Krystkowiak terms an “after-action review,” which is essentially decompressing and going over Thursday’s game, and a “before-action review,” which is a look ahead to Saturday.
In terms of actual practice, no coach worth his salary puts his kids through a full workout on a one-day turnaround. Instead, the Utes were slated to go over a few key Oregon-related items, then watch more film. Utah will shootaround Saturday morning ahead of the 3 p.m. tip-off.
“It’s going to be a lot of what’s between the ears,” said Krystkowiak, who pointed out the team’s fall GPA of 3.2 as a factor in them being locked in mentally on the quick turnaround. “This brings in all the different facets of getting ready for a game, and this is one where you have to be really sharp and you have to absorb the instructions. We can’t have any daydreaming.
“We’re not asking you to do a whole lot in the physical sense, but you better bring your brain.”
With a No. 4 ranking and the Pac-12’s best resume to this point, Oregon’s trip to Utah already held plenty of intrigue. Then, the Ducks’ lifetime losing streak at Colorado continued on Thursday via a 74-65 loss to the Buffaloes in Boulder.
The possibility of the Ducks starting 0-2 in league play once felt unrealistic, even with the struggles at Colorado, but now that feels very real if Utah comes out and plays at a high level. At 10-3 with a NET (NCAA Evaluation Tool) of 50 through Thursday, that has been the case more times than not this season.
“They’re a high-octane group, I think on both ends of the floor,” Krystkowiak said. “They put pressure on you with different full-court-type of presses. Offensively, it really starts with [Payton] Pritchard, and they have a bunch of stars in the recruiting circle. High-flying guys, high-energy guys.”
“It’s going to come down to a lot of 1-on-1 defense. You have to guard your guy.”
No. 4 OREGON at UTAH
At Huntsman Center
Tipoff: Saturday, 3 p.m.
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Radio: ESPN 700
Records: Oregon, 11-3; Utah, 10-3
Series history: Oregon leads, 20-10
Last meeting: Oregon, 66-54 (2019)
About the Ducks: Oregon, ranked No. 4 in the country with the Pac-12’s best resume, fell at Colorado on Thursday night, 74-65, to open league play. The Ducks have never won in Boulder They are 0-9 there all-time, including 0-7 since the Buffaloes entered the Pac-12 in 2011… Ducks senior guard Payton Pritchard, an early candidate for Naismith Player of the Year, leads his team in scoring at 18.6 points per game. His 6.0 assists are second in the Pac-12 behind Arizona freshman point guard Nico Mannion … Oregon’s NET of 15 through Thursday’s games is tops in the Pac-12, which has four top-22 teams entering the weekend … The Ducks appear to be as healthy as they’ve been all season. Shakur Juiston returned from a lower leg injury after missing five games, and C.J. Walker remained in the lineup despite suffering a minor back injury on Dec. 29 against Alabama State.
About the Utes: Utah overcame some early trouble Thursday night to down Oregon State, 81-69, at the Huntsman Center. Sophomore guard Timmy Allen had 25 points and 10 rebounds to lead all scorers … Allen played the full 40 minutes, while Both Gach and Rylan Jones both played 35 with a short turnaround now to deal with … The Utes are sitting at a season-best NET of 50 through Thursday’s games. That is the fifth-best NET rating among Pac-12 teams … Utah has lost three straight to Oregon and 12 of 13 dating back to 2013. The most recent meeting was in the first round of last season’s Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas. Payton Pritchard and five-star freshman Louis King each netted 20 points in a 66-54 Ducks win. That was part of late-season burst, which saw the Ducks win the Pac-12 Tournament and eventually advance to the Sweet 16.