Utah Utes basketball: Larry Krystkowiak wants Utes to create opportunities on offense
SALT LAKE CITY — The last time the Utah basketball team played Oregon, three seasons ago, the Utes cruised to a 95-81 victory at the Huntsman Center. The 95 points is the most scored by a Ute team over the past decade.
The way things are going this year, the offense-challenged Utes might be lucky to only score about half as many points when they play the Ducks Thursday night (7 p.m.) at the Huntsman Center.
In their last two games, the Utes have averaged just 47 points, in losses at UCLA (76-49) and USC (62-45). Before that, the Utes scored under 50 points in four other games and 53 or less in five others. The Utes rank No. 332 in the nation in scoring at 55.9 points per game, ahead of just six other schools.
"It sounds really silly, but we've got to play a lot harder on offense," said Ute coach Larry Krystkowiak. "You have to be intent on screening and cutting. We really were going through the motions in the USC game offensively and defensively. You can create a lot of your own headaches when you don't play hard. That's something we have to try to clean up this week."
Oregon, which is a game out of first place in the Pac-12 at 6-3, is coming into the game off a 76-71 loss at home Sunday to rival Oregon State. Before that, the Ducks had won four straight Pac-12 games, including back-to-back road games at Arizona and Arizona State.
Senior guard Devoe Joseph leads the Ducks in scoring at 15.4 ppg, followed by junior forward E.J. Singler at 12.9 and guard Garrett Sim at 12.2. Singler is the top rebounder at 5.1 rpg.
Other likely starters are Jeremy Jacob (4.8 ppg) and Tony Woods (6.8 ppg), a 6-foot-11 transfer from Wake Forest, who leads the Pac-12 in blocked shots.
"Their three leading scorers are perimeter guys who shoot the ball real well," said Krystkowiak. "And their big guys are solid as well as athletic."
Krystkowiak is concerned about the fact that the Ducks have been to the free-throw line 126 times more than their opponents and that their top three free throw shooters shoot over 80 percent. The Utes will have to lay off the fouls.
Utah has just one player scoring in double figures, center Jason Washburn at 10.4 per game. Chris Hines is next at 8.7, followed by Cedric Martin at 6.6 ppg. Freshman Kareem Storey and forward Dijon Farr round out the starting lineup and Javon Dawson and Anthony Odunsi come off the bench.
After Thursday's game, the Utes will play Oregon State Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Huntsman Center.
GAME NOTES: In conjunction with Utah athletics' annual Power of Pink campaign as well as the NABC Coaches vs. Cancer efforts, the Utes will wear pink basketball shoes Thursday night and the coaching staff will also be wearing pink sneakers on the sidelines. … The Ducks have already played in Salt Lake once this season, losing to BYU 79-65 at the EnergySolutions Arena in December. … Oregon is coached by Dana Altman, who is in his second year with the Ducks. He has won 446 games in 23 years as a Division I coach. … Oregon's Singler and Sim rank 3-4 in the Pac-12 in the free throw percentage at 88.8 and 85.5 percent, respectively. … In 2007, the Ducks defeated the Utes 75-64 in Portland. In 2003, Utah beat Oregon 60-58 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Nashville. … The Utes lead the all-time series with Oregon 8-7.
Utes on the air
Oregon (15-6, 6-3) at Utah (5-16, 2-7)
Today, 7 p.m. MT
Huntsman Center, Salt Lake City
TV: None Radio: 700 AM
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