SALT LAKE CITY — For 38 consecutive seasons, the Utah Utes have posted a winning record in the Huntsman Center.
It's a place, obviously, where they're very comfortable.
This season is no different. Although the Utes have won just five games, all have come on their home court — including Pac-12 victories over Washington State and Arizona State.
"Our effort is night and day playing in this arena," acknowledged Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. "I think it's good for our guys. The fans have showed up and supported us, which has been terrific."
They'll get another chance to do so Saturday afternoon when the Utes (5-17, 2-8) host Oregon State (14-8, 4-6).
A win would even Utah's record at home this season to 6-6. The Utes fell below .500 up on the hill with a 79-68 loss to Oregon on Thursday.
"It was a tough ballgame for us," said Ducks coach Dana Altman. "Utah has played awfully well at home in conference."
Although the Utes' 2-3 conference home record includes a 26-point setback to Arizona, it pales in comparison to lopsided road losses to Colorado (73-33), California (81-45) and UCLA (76-49).
Utah's point differential is minus-3.6 in five Pac-12 home games and minus-24.6 in an equal number of road contests.
"Good teams are able to win on the road and right now we're not a good team," Krystkowiak said.
Even so, he's "having a heckuva good time" coaching the Utes because they're the essence of a team trying to work together on offensive and defensive facets.
Progress is being made, at least at home.
"It's fun. We're laying it on the line and everybody's engaged and following the game plan," Krystkowiak said. "But good teams go on the road and are able to be disciplined and usually involve a deep bench. We're just not at the point where we're ultra-competitive. I think we get down when we're on the road."
Before venturing out to Arizona State and Arizona next week, the Utes get a chance to do so on a successful note. They'll face an Oregon State team coming off an 82-60 setback at Colorado on Thursday.
"I've watched them a lot," Krystkowiak said. "They're super-athletic, probably the most athletic team in the league."
The Beavers, who lead the Pac-12 in scoring, assists, field-goal percentage and steals, have a trio of double-digit scorers in Jared Cunningham, Ahmad Starks and Devon Collier. Cunningham and Starks pace the effort in the backcourt.
Before falling to the Buffaloes in Boulder, Oregon State had won three straight games — including a 76-71 win at rival Oregon.
Head coach Craig Robinson said the Beavers just weren't ready to play in Colorado.
"I don't know if it was the altitude or it's complacency, but a lot of it has to do with the fact that (the Buffaloes) played really well," Robinson said, "We didn't get back on defense and that was a big part of it. There were so many points from the paint in transition that you just can't win that way."
GAME NOTES: Robinson is the older brother of U.S. first lady Michelle Obama.… Utah is 9-0 at home against Oregon State. The Utes lead the overall series 12-7.… Utah's Chris Hines leads the Pac-12 by making an average of 2.7 3-pointers per game.… This is the first meeting between the Utes and Beavers since 1999.… Utah athletics will honor first responders (police, fire and armed forces) for its "Salute America Game."
UTES ON THE AIR
Oregon State (14-8, 4-6)
at Utah (5-17, 2-8)
Saturday, February 4th, 3 p.m.
Radio: 700 AM
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