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Utah Utes basketball: Improved Utes motivated by memory of beatdown

Published: Friday, Feb. 17 2012 7:33 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Utes haven't forgotten about New Year's Eve in Boulder, Colo. A 73-33 loss isn't easy to shake off or put in the rearview mirror.

"It really was an ugly, ugly game as we all remember," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said as the Utes (5-20, 2-11) prepared for Saturday's rematch with Colorado (17-8, 9-4) in the Huntsman Center.

After acknowledging it was probably the lowpoint of the season, Krystkowiak noted that the Utes have come a long ways since then.

"I looked at the game on video and they just couldn't have played much worse," he said. "So there's really not an aspect of us that hasn't improved."

Offense, defense, you name it. Krystkowiak is pleased with the progress. The Utes are playing together better and understanding that they need to play a lot harder.

"I feel like we're making strides and moving forward," Krystkowiak said while expressing hope that the team builds on last week's effort at Arizona State and Arizona.

Although Utah lost both games and have dropped six straight overall, the Utes did take the contests down to the wire.

"When we played Colorado the first time we weren't really together like we are now," said swingman Cedric Martin. "We're ready to give them a fight."

And that's exactly what the Buffaloes are expecting.

"I'm sure they're going to look back at that game at our place and use it as motivation," said Colorado coach Tad Boyle. "So we've got to be ready to go because you can't take anything for granted this time of year."

As such, Boyle noted that the 40-point win in Boulder is a thing of the past.

"They're a much better team than we played back then. That was a home game. We kind of jumped on them," he said. "I look at the way Utah played against Arizona on Saturday and it's like 'Wow.' Some people may look at that score and say Arizona kind of sleepwalked through that thing. That's not the case if you watch that game. I mean Utah outplayed them for 39 minutes and I thought could have won that game very easily."

It gave the Utes a boost of confidence heading into the Colorado game.

"We can get caught up in revenge. We have to do it in a good way and in a positive way," Martin said. "They did embarrass us, but with us getting better I think we're going to give them a fight."

GAME NOTES: It's "Alumni Weekend" with all former Runnin' Utes invited to return for the game. … The 1976-77 WAC championship team will be honored at halftime. … Freshman forward George Matthews tore a ligament in his foot against Arizona State and will be sidelined for the rest of the season. … Former Ute Carlon Brown leads a balanced Colorado offense with 12.6 points per game. Teammate Andre Roberson averages 11.2 points and a league-high 11.1 rebounds. … Utah leads the all-time series 21-15. ... Chris Hines is second in the Pac-12 with 2.4 3-pointers per game. …Dijon Farr has pulled down 26 rebounds over the past three games. … The Utes are 5-7 at home this season.

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer

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Colorado (17-8, 9-4) at Utah (5-20, 2-11)

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