Utah Utes basketball: U. must win to avoid worst start ever

Published: Friday, Dec. 2 2011 8:25 p.m. MST

The Utah basketball team will be trying to break a five-game losing streak when it takes on Fresno State Saturday at 2 p.m. MT at the Save Mart Center in Fresno.

The Utes haven't won since Nov. 14 when they slipped past San Diego Christian College 58-55. In three games last week at the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas, the Utes lost three games by an average of 21 points.

At 1-5, the Utes have tied the worst start in history for a Utah basketball team, but first-year coach Larry Krystkowiak isn't concerned about making history with another loss.

"We're in the present right now and we don't have anything to do with what's been here in the past and all of the great teams that have been and those that have struggled," he said. "It is what it is and we're going to control what we can. It's an opportunity for us to go in and compete."

Krystkowiak said his young team has had a good week of practice and he hopes they will cut down on mistakes that have plagued them so far, such things as turnovers and poor defensive rotations.

"We've shot ourselves in the foot with one or two elements that haven't gone right," he said. "We can't have an 18-turnover game or a game where we miss a lot of free throws or don't defend the way we need to defend. We need to put it all together."

In Fresno State, the Utes will be facing a team with a lot of similarities. The Bulldogs have a new coach in Rodney Terry and have one player that has been the focal point much like the Utes with Josh Watkins.

The Bulldogs are led by Kevin Olekaibe, who averages 21.3 points, while Jonathan Willis averages 5.7 rebounds per game. Steven Shepp leads the team with 4.3 assists per game.

Watkins leads the Utes in scoring at 18.8 points per game as well as in assists at 4.8 per game. He will be joined in the starting lineup by center Jason Washburn, forwards Blake Wilkinson and Cedric Martin and guard Chris Hines.

GAME NOTES: Last year, Utah claimed a 76-63 victory over the Bulldogs in Salt Lake. … The Utes and Bulldogs were both members of the Western Athletic Conference in the 1990s and the Utes hold a 9-3 advantage in the series. … After Saturday's game, the Utes return home for four straight home games, beginning Wednesday night against Cal State Fullerton. The Utes play BYU for the only time this season on Dec. 10 at the Huntsman Center at noon.

Utes on the air

Utah (1-5) at Fresno State (3-4)

Today, 2 p.m.

TV: none Radio: 700 AM

email: sor@desnews.com

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