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Utes’ only senior, Marc Reininger, finally gets some extended minutes during Colorado loss

Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak calls for a timeout in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Colorado, Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, in Boulder, Colo.
David Zalubowski, AP

BOULDER — During his first three years on the Utah basketball team, Marc Reininger only got into games at the end of blowouts for a couple of minutes at a time. He has been a valuable practice player for the Utes, but this year, as the only senior on the team, he had not played all season because of a serious ankle injury he suffered in July.

However, midway through the first half of Sunday’s game against Colorado, Reininger was inserted into the game at the center position and he played his longest stretch of his career, getting four points and four rebounds in eight first-half minutes. He’s only been practicing for two weeks, but he said coach Larry Krystkowiak told him to be ready to play Sunday.

“It’s good to be back,” said the 6-foot-9, 230-pounder. “I’m glad the coach put me in and believed in me. I’ve kind of accepted my role in making my team better. Coach puts me in to be physical and rebound, we need that as much as we can get it.”

Despite the loss, it was satisfying for Reininger because he’s from Monument, Colorado and he had family and friends on hand.

“It’s always a hard gym to play in, because it’s so intense, but it’s fun to play in front of family and friends,” he said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to play.”

Reininger ended up playing 11 minutes on the night with a 3-point basket and 1-of-3 from the free throw line and four rebounds. He also made a nice screen when he first entered the game, something his coach took notice of.

“He’ll screen, the first time he had an opportunity to screen, we got a bucket,” said Krystkowiak, “He’s bigger and stronger but he’s not exactly game-ready. He’s been out for a long time but I give Mark a lot of credit for banging and bringing that physicality.”

With the Utes young and thin inside, Reininger may be called on for more duty as the season rolls along.