SALT LAKE CITY — After coming oh-so-close to a road sweep of Arizona and Arizona State, the Utah Utes are moving forward. They’re determined to put Saturday’s heartbreaking 74-73 setback in Tucson behind them.
“Obviously we were unhappy with the result of the game. It was a pretty tough loss for us, especially when we had it right there,” said senior forward David Collette. “I think we’re good now, though. I think overall it was a good weekend for us.”
Collette added that getting an 80-77 overtime win at Arizona State on Thursday was “pretty big.” He noted there were also “a lot of good things” about how the Utes played at Arizona.
“It seems like the team has kind of really come together right now, and I think it’s a good time for us,” Collette continued.
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said he was proud of how the Utes performed over the weekend. He expressed confidence that they’ll move past the near miss against Pac-12 front-runner Arizona.
“It always remains a heck of a lot more about the journey that we’re on than it does a specific point in,” Krystkowiak said. “So, yeah, I think we’ll be OK.”
After returning from Arizona, the Utes (13-8, 5-5) took two days off. Krystkowiak considered it a “good little reprieve” that gave everyone a break from one another. It preceded preparation for Friday’s game at Colorado (12-8, 4-6).
Utah (13-8, 5-5) at Colorado (12-10, 4-6)
Coors Event Center, Boulder
Friday, 7 p.m.
Radio: ESPN 700AM
“I know this group of guys well enough to know that when we walk in the gym this afternoon for practice it’s going to be all hands on deck,” Krystkowiak said. “Everybody’s going to be excited to see what the plan’s going to be for Colorado. You can never get too excited up and down about any of the results.”
As such, Krystkowiak isn’t concerned about the emotional state of the team after Donnie Tillman’s late layup attempt missed the mark against the Wildcats.
“We don’t spend a whole lot of time talking about, you know, where we are. It’s a situation that it would have been a golden opportunity to finish that last play and get the ‘W.’ It didn’t happen,” Krystkowiak explained. “It’s not different than the results of a lot of other games. We’ve got to turn our attention to the Colorado team and bounce back.”
And that’s that as Utah continues the final stretch of Pac-12 play.
“I think our guys know this isn’t a real place for too much going on emotional. We’re past the halfway point. We’ve got eight to go,” Krystkowiak said. “It’s more business at hand and making sure we’re dialed in on our academics, ready to go for practice, and control what it is we can control.”
There’s quite a logjam in the Pac-12. Arizona (8-1) and USC (8-2) lead the conference. The ninth-ranked Wildcats and Trojans are followed by a pack that includes Washington (5-3), UCLA (6-4), Stanford (5-4), Utah (5-5) and Oregon (4-4). They’re followed by Arizona State (4-5), Colorado (4-6) and Oregon State (3-5). Washington State (1-7) and California (1-8) round things out.
The top four teams will receive byes in the Pac-12 tournament March 7-10 in Las Vegas.