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Utah notebook: Krystkowiak says Utes dodged a bullet

Utah Utes forward Brekkott Chapman (0) and Utah Utes forward Jakob Poeltl (42) celebrate their win over Arizona, 70-64, at the Huntsman Center at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016.
Utah Utes forward Brekkott Chapman (0) and Utah Utes forward Jakob Poeltl (42) celebrate their win over Arizona, 70-64, at the Huntsman Center at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016.
Laura Seitz,

SALT LAKE CITY — After reviewing the tape, Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak acknowledged that the now 12th-ranked Utes weren’t very good in Saturday night’s 57-55 win over Colorado.

“We really dodged a bullet and it’s important that we learn some of those lessons even though we won the game,” Krystkowiak said at his weekly press conference. “So we’re going to have a pretty good film session and have a little reminder of some of the simple things that we decided we weren’t going to do on Saturday night that almost cost us the game.

“We need a littler bit of a refresher and a reminder before we head into Vegas,” he added. “We can’t have any of that slippage.”

Krytskowiak said his team’s execution in the regular-season finale was “horrendous.” He labeled 15 plays in the first half alone with a variety of ways to be ineffective on offense.

“Thank goodness our defense was the way it was,” Krystkowiak said.

The Utes (24-7, 13-5) carry a seven-game winning streak into this week’s Pac-12 tournament at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. They’ll face UCLA or USC in the quarterfinals Thursday night.

TITLE TALK: Krystkowiak explained why Utah’s team goals include winning the conference tournament but not the regular-season title.

“We’ve never once talked about being the regular-season champions. That’s not to say that it wouldn’t be a heck if a lot of fun,” said Krystkowiak, who added that at the end of the day it’s more about the postseason. “I do know that you don’t get an automatic invitation to the NCAA tournament by winning the Pac-12 regular-season championship. You get one from cutting down the nets and winning the tournament championship.”

An advantage of doing so is being one of four teams to get a first-round bye, he continued, and not being the No. 1 seed.

Although Utah was in the hunt to be co-champs on the final day of play, Krystkowiak said you can’t really share the title with a team that beat you twice as Oregon did.

“They’re the champs,” he noted.

WHILE IN VEGAS: Before getting down to the business of basketball, the Utes plan to hit a Las Vegas show after arriving in town Tuesday night. They’re scheduled to see KA by Cirque du Soleil at the MGM Grand.

“We try to take the guys out and do part of what’s Vegas,” said Krystkowiak, who mentioned that it's become a tradition for the team to see a show. They’ve attended programs paying tribute to the Beatles and Michael Jackson in recent years.

“It’s a cool thing,” he noted.

After that, there’s a lot of tournament preparation to do.

The Utes plan to practice at a gym in Las Vegas on Wednesday. They’ll have a shootaround at the tournament venue on Thursday. Teams are allowed only 30 minutes of practice time on the MGM Grand Garden Arena court.

CROWD PLEASERS: The Utes are appreciative of the large, loud Huntsman Center crowds that were on hand for recent wins over Arizona and Colorado.

“I don’t know that we win either game without that type of momentum and home-court advantage,” Krystkowiak said.

IT’S A SELLOUT: For the first time in Pac-12 tournament history, every ticket for every game has been sold in advance — 12,916 to be exact.

“Our talented student-athletes are in for a world-class championship experience in Las Vegas and we are thrilled to have a passionate crowd to share in that excitement,” Pac-12 chief marketing officer Danette Leighton said in making the announcement.

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer