SALT LAKE CITY — Since taking over at point guard for the Utah basketball team, Kareem Storey has played well at times even if his coach hasn't always thought so. After Storey helped lead the Utes to a 21-point victory over Arizona State two weeks ago, Larry Krystkowiak said he "wasn't trying to be mean" when he said Storey hadn't "played that well."
Despite Utah's loss to Oregon Thursday night, Krystkowiak was singing Storey's praises after one of the best nights for a Ute point guard in years.
Storey, the freshman from Baltimore, finished with 11 assists and just one turnover, while scoring 10 points. It wasn't enough to lead the Utes to victory, but it was worth talking about afterward.
"He had a really, really nice game," Krystkowiak said. "For him to have that assist-to-turnover ratio was a really big step for him. I thought he was instrumental for us, he battled hard and played every minute of the game. He didn't have an easy matchup with (Garrett) Sim or anybody he was guarding."
Like the Ute coach said, Storey played all 40 minutes, the first Ute to do so this season. When asked why afterward, Krystkowiak said he pretty much had to, now that Josh Watkins is gone for the year.
"No disrespect to the guys who have walked on here, but we were going to with the flow and the guys we had in there." Krystkowiak said. "We don't have a lot of depth at that position."
Storey's double-digit assist game was the first at Utah since Luka Drca dished out 10 against Colorado State in March of 2008. Storey became the first Ute to get a double-double in points and assists since Marc Jackson had 11 points and 10 assists against Air Force in 2005.
The freshman tried to shrug off the accomplishment, saying, "Ced (Martin) and (Chris) Hines did a very good job of knocking down shots and that gave me good options."
He said he's getting more comfortable with being the starter.
"We're buying into what coach has been telling us to do," he said. "That opens up a lot more options on the offensive end and I can see a lot more people open."
Oregon coach Dana Altman had nice things to say about the Ute freshman.
"Storey's really quick — he got by us and he made plays." Altman said. "He's an explosive point guard."
Like most Ute players, Storey has had trouble putting together good back-to-back games and he'll get a chance to change that when Oregon State comes to town Saturday.