Eugene, Ore. • The University of Utah men’s basketball team tipped off against Oregon State Thursday at 7 p.m. at Gill Coliseum. The Utes do not play again until 7 p.m. Sunday, when they face 17th-ranked Oregon at Matthew Knight Arena.
That means Utah will go 72 hours between tip-offs on this Oregon swing, which began with a 70-51 loss to the Beavers. Will Utah alter any preparation as it tries to salvage a weekend split and win its first Pac-12 road game of the season?
The Utes bussed the 90 minutes Thursday night from Corvallis to Portland, then practiced Friday and Saturday at the Trail Blazers’ facility before heading to Eugene Saturday evening in anticipation of Sunday night’s game.
“The schedule throws you different curveballs,” Utes head coach Larry Krystkowiak said Thursday night after Oregon State. “The flip side is you could be playing less than 48 hours later, and that’s a tough turnaround, too. ... We’ll get to Portland tonight and practice a couple times at the Trail Blazers’ facility and try to find our mojo, and try to keep grinding it out like we’ve been doing all year.
“You get a couple practices in and try to come up with a really good game plan against a good Oregon team.”
The Oregon State-Oregon trips marks the Utes’ fourth of five Pac-12 road trips this season. The 72-hour gap between games is the longest of those five trips. The Utes went 65 hours between USC and UCLA, and will go 68 hours later this month between Stanford and Cal.
If you’re looking for a reason as to why Utah has to wait three entire days to complete a road trip, blame TV. Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the matchup Sunday night, so it dictates the game time.
One plausible explanation for the 7 p.m. start is that the NBA All-Star Game will also be played on Sunday, but at 6 p.m. If FS1 is going to broadcast a college game and go up against the NBA, the prudent move is to have the Pac-12 preseason favorite, not to mention its highest-profile program these days, in that slot.
“Two good days, tomorrow and Saturday,” sophomore wing Timmy Allen said. “We’ve got to have some great days, locked in, high energy and get ready for Oregon. We’ll prep for them, we know them pretty well, so we’ll see what we can get done these next two days.”