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Utah's seniors feeling a sense of urgency as season winds down

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s four seniors are making a big impact as the Utes work their way through the second half of the Pac-12 season. Gabe Bealer, Justin Bibbins, David Collette and Tyler Rawson enter Friday’s trip to Colorado averaging a combined 43.6 points, 16.2 rebounds, 10.6 assists, 3.0 steals and 2.0 blocks per game.

Then there‘s the leadership they’re providing.

“I think it’s that time of year,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “There’s a sense of urgency with them.”

The Utes have just eight games left to play before the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas. They’re at a crossroads, of sorts, with a 5-5 record in Pac-12 play.

After noting that all four seniors have stepped up at different times this season, Collette acknowledged that there is a little more sense of urgency as the end draws near.

“I think it’s good for us,” he said. “As time counts down with the four of us, I think we’ll start to realize we don’t have much time left, we need to get some stuff done.”

Krystkowiak noted that it’s not “a big, touchy, feely, psychological time of the season to break things down.” He stressed the importance of taking full advantage of practices and just keep building.

“We have some good performances from those seniors. It’s just not a time to be complacent and certainly think anybody’s arrived,” Krystkowiak said. “We’ve got a lot of improving to do and that’s what we’ll do as coaches — is keep grinding and making sure we’re trying to continue to improve as the season progresses.”

DIFFERENT WORLD: Collette, who transferred to Utah from Utah State, said he’s had to adjust his game in his second season in the Pac-12. He’s no longer an unknown commodity.

“A good player is going to find a way,” Collette said. “So if they take away one thing, you’ve got to be prepared to come back with something else. So it’s something we worked on.”

BUCK STOPS HERE: There was a familiar face in the crowd when Utah visited USC earlier this season. Mack Calvin, who played for the Trojans before a lengthy pro career that included being a five-time ABA all-star and later a 1979-80 member of the Utah Jazz, was on hand for the game. He was an assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks for four seasons (1987-91) when Krystkowiak was on the roster as a player.

Calvin had kind things to say about Krystkowiak.

“He is one of the top five coaches in America,” said Calvin, who added that players grow under Krystkowiak. “He’s an outstanding coach. He develops players but he also develops individuals.”

ANOTHER GAME: Collette isn’t buying into the hype surrounding Friday’s game between the Utes and Colorado.

“I don’t know about rivalries. I really don’t care,” he said. “We’ve got to play them. It’s another opponent.”

However, Collette acknowledged that it’s also tough to play the Buffaloes in Boulder. Despite similar altitudes, he said Colorado had a different feel to it for some reason. Collette added that the Buffs play well at home, so it’ll be a challenge.

Utah has won seven straight games in the series. The last loss was an overtime setback at the Coors Event Center in 2014.


Utah (13-8, 5-5) at Colorado (12-10, 4-6)

Coors Event Center, Boulder

Friday, 7 p.m.


Radio: ESPN 700AM


Twitter: @DirkFacer