Utah basketball: Utes hoping to snap their 8-game tailspin
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak isn't looking at tonight's home game against Idaho State as a "must win." After losing eight straight games, though, a victory over the Bengals (2-7) would be welcome.
"I'd be lying if I said it wouldn't be awfully nice to get this taste out of our mouth, but it's not worth thinking about must this or must that," Krystkowiak said. "The only thing that's really must is that we come out and play with an awful lot of intensity."
"Even though we lost, I thought we played hard right up to the final buzzer," said center Jason Washburn, who is hopeful the effort can be combined with more consistent intelligence on the court and better shooting.
"If we can keep coming with that kind of energy, wins will come," he added. "We've just got to become more consistent on the offensive end and we're going to be all right. I have confidence in that."
Josh Watkins, the lone senior on the active roster, also believes more success is on the horizon. The key, he explained, is bringing the same intensity the team showed against BYU.
Krystkowiak and Watkins agree that the Utes continued their hard play in practices this week.
"We've worked our tails off," Watkins said while noting they're leaving it all on the court.
Krystkowiak acknowledged the Utes are trying to put some things together in order to come out and play hard tonight.
"It's a possession-by-possession deal. That's why we've been getting beat by 20 or 30 because we lose enough four-point turnarounds over the course of a game," he said. "So we're not thinking final result. We're just thinking about the first possession and the second possession will take care of itself. Then we'll add them all up at the end."
Utah's focus is internal.
"We're worried about us. We're worried about us getting better. We'll worry about the things we need to work on," Washburn said. "Obviously, as a team, we've got some stuff we've got to work on. We've got to become more consistent."
Watkins considers the Idaho State game a "must win" in the team's progression.
"We know we've got to come out and play hard," he said. "We know how we can play, just as we showed in the BYU game. We've just got to bring that same intensity out."
Krsytkowiak, however, isn't applying a "must win" tag to it.
"I'm not going to put that kind of pressure on our guys or ourselves . ... We've had a terrific week of practice," he said. "We got a good dose of what it's going to take to compete, and our guys have carried it over in practice this week. It's not like the energy has been lacking."
GAME NOTES: Junior guard Chris Hines, who broke his left thumb early in the BYU game, is not expected to play. ... Idaho State's lone wins this season came against Colorado Christian (93-66) and North Dakota (76-63). ... The Utes are 14-0 against Idaho State in Salt Lake City. ... Melvin Morgan leads the Bengals in scoring with 12.8 points per game.
Utes on the air
Idaho State (2-7) at Utah (1-8)
Tonight, 7 p.m. MT
TV: None Radio: 700 AM
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