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Utah’s Rylan Jones is ‘a ways away’ from playing after suffering head injury against Cal

SHARE Utah’s Rylan Jones is ‘a ways away’ from playing after suffering head injury against Cal
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Utah guard Rylan Jones (15) against California during an NCAA college basketball game in Berkeley, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020.

Jeff Chiu, AP

SALT LAKE CITY — As expected, there was no new news Tuesday about Utah freshman guard Rylan Jones, who suffered an apparent concussion early in Saturday’s game against Cal in Berkeley. 

He didn’t suit up or practice Tuesday afternoon and according to his coach, Larry Krystkowiak, and Jones’ situation is “not positive” and he’s “a ways away” from playing.

“His health is the primary thing that’s important to us and it’s certainly not a situation that’s positive. We’re hoping and praying that he can get back to normal, but he’s a ways away.” — Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak

Jones was hit more than once in collisions near the Golden Bears’ basket early in the first half, first by Cal’s Matt Bradley, then by Ute teammate Branden Carlson, and after hitting the floor, Carlson fell on Jones. 

Krystkowiak talked about Jones on his radio show Monday night, indicating he had a concussion and again at his Tuesday press conference, but had no definitive answers for Jones’ future play on the basketball court. He said he hadn’t talked to Jones and only talked to his father, Chris Jones, the Utes’ director of basketball operations, and trainer Trevor Jameson.

“There’s more testing that’s taking place and any time you’re dealing with the old noggin, it’s dangerous stuff, with sensitivity to light and noise,” Krystkowiak said. 

The Ute coach said it’s a daily assessment and he’s letting the medical staff handle it, but he didn’t sound positive about Jones playing any time soon.

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Utah guard Rylan Jones (15) is helped off the court after being injured in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against USC Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020, in Salt Lake City.

Rick Bowmer, AP

“His health is the primary thing that’s important to us and it’s certainly not a situation that’s positive,” he said. “We’re hoping and praying that he can get back to normal, but he’s a ways away.”

For Jones, it’s at least his fourth major injury of the season. 

He was hobbled by ankle sprains in November games, then sat out the Weber State game because of bruised ribs. Then last week against USC, he suffered an injury to his left shin but was able to play with a “sleeve” on his leg against Stanford later in the week, before suffering the head injury at Cal. 

There’s no timetable for Jones’ return as Krystkowiak pointed out about concussions, “no two are the same.” Utah’s lone senior Marc Reininger suffered a concussion six weeks ago and still has not been cleared to play. He hopes to be able to play Saturday in the home finale against Colorado.

COLORADO ON TAP: The Utes have had some big losses this year, but none bigger than the 39-point whipping they received back on Jan. 12 against Colorado. In that game, they fell behind from the start and were overwhelmed by the physicality of the experienced Buffs’ team. 

“It was definitely a physical matchup and we weren’t prepared from a physical point of view from every position,” said Krystkowiak. “Colorado played great and it was one of our more disappointing games of the season and a struggle for us.”

Krystkowiak said his team will go back to simpler concepts on offense and try to play harder on defense, “making up our minds we’re going to get stops and fight and scratch and claw a little more. That will be a big focus for us.”

UTE NOTES: After Saturday’s game, the Utes will play in the Pac-12 Tournament next week in Las Vegas at the T-Mobile Arena, where they defeated Kentucky back in December. ... The Utes can finish anywhere from No. 8 to No. 11, depending on the outcome of this weekend’s game. Games begin on Wednesday. ... Midway through the season, the Utes ranked first in the Pac-12 in free-throw shooting, but have fallen to sixth in the latest rankings at 72.9%. ... Timmy Allen led the league in scoring for much of the first two months of the season, but has fallen back to sixth at 17.72 ppg. Allen ranks eighth in rebounding at 7.28 rpg. ... Carlson ranks fourth in the league in blocked shots and sixth in field goal percentage at 56.3%, while Jones ranks second in free-throw shooting (86.3%) and sixth in assists at 4.48 apg.