Utah basketball: Not the start, or finish Utes were looking for
Ravell Call, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — For the record, Chris Webber is not one of the 13 new faces on the University of Utah's revamped basketball team.
The Utes were, however, doomed by a technical foul similar to the one Webber infamously made with Michigan when his Fab Five fizzled against North Carolina in the 1993 NCAA championship game.
The Utes ended up losing 61-60 to Div. II foe Adams State on Friday at the Huntsman Center after the Grizzlies hit a free throw following a technical called on freshman Kareem Storey, who signaled for a timeout with none remaining in the waning moments of this exhibition game.
"I just made a mental mistake on my part," the guard from Maryland said. "I'm a freshman. I'm going to learn from it."
That lapse of judgment and an ensuing turnover and missed shot by Cedric Martin cost the Utes this overall meaningless game. Of far more importance, the Utes are unsure of the health status of 7-foot-3 center David Foster, who left in the first half with a right foot injury.
Foster walked gingerly off the court in a walking boot after the game. He was scheduled to have X-rays taken late Friday night.
Another of Utah's four returners — guard Chris Hines — played sparingly after suffering a rib injury. He was also headed to the X-ray machine.
"We need Dave," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "We're a little bit thin on the front line at this point."
That was especially the case because forward Javon Dawson didn't play due to a concussion.
Despite the gaffe with 11 seconds left and the game tied, Storey sparked the Utes in this less-than-sparkling performance. He finished tied with senior guard Jiggy Watkins for team scoring honors at 12, and topped the Utes with six assists in just 16 minutes.
"Kareem Storey may be hard on himself for that play, but he played tremendous," Krystkowiak said. "He was probably one of the key ingredients to us coming back. He's a freshman, played with some big heart."
Krystkowiak liked the combination of simultaneously playing point guards Watkins and Storey, who helped turn an Adams State lead of six into a five-point Utah edge with under two minutes remaining.
Kyrstkowiak said not too much can be read into this exhibition game as far as the starting lineup, combinations and minute distribution are concerned.
Eight Utes played at least 13 minutes, with three players — Martin, Jason Washburn and Dijon Farr — each logging 30-plus minutes.
Foster (six minutes) and Hines (13) were each limited in their court time due to their injuries.
The Utes' starting lineup included Watkins, Martin, Foster, Farr and Viewmont walk-on freshman Blake Wilkinson, who had a game-high 11 rebounds.
"I think it's a little bit of a reach to take too much into account with that," Krystkowiak said of the rotations. "We're just going to try to piece it together here for right now and come up with some combinations."
Farr, a junior college transfer from Texas who had 10 points and five boards, was teased in the interview room by Watkins and Storey when he claimed "altitude" was one of the reasons for his struggles.
Neither team shot well — Utah missed 31 of 52 shots (40.4 percent), while Adams State hit only 35.1 percent of its field goals — but the Utes were especially plagued by their 19 turnovers.
"In my mind, we get the loss out early," said Watkins, knowing this one won't count on Utah's record. "We know what we have to work on and next time there will be a better outcome."
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