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Krystkowiak unsure how his Utes will react after a victory

Published: Monday, Feb. 27 2012 10:49 p.m. MST

University of Utah's Head coach Larry Krystkowiak stares at the floor as a time out is called as Utah and the Cal Bears play Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012 in the Huntsman Center.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak acknowledged it's a position his team hasn't been in too many times this season.

With just six wins under their belt, there's not a lot of evidence to accurately predict how the Runnin' Utes will play after earning an emotional victory. Saturday's 58-57 win over Stanford in the Huntsman Center is followed by road games at Oregon State on Thursday and Oregon on Saturday.

"We're not really thinking about the past win to propel us forward or anything," Krystkowiak said. "We just know it's going to continue to be a grind here on the road but we've got to be ready to step up."

As such, Krystkowiak noted that Monday's practice wasn't any easier because of the win over the Cardinal.

"It's just one of those things where the grind stays the same," he said. "We come in and we've got some things we need to focus on this week. You can't really let up."

The Utes, Krystkowiak added, have got to keep the pedal to the metal.

Given Utah's 6-9 record at home and 0-13 mark away from Salt Lake City, junior center Jason Washburn isn't expecting a letdown.

"It's another chance to play on the road and get our first road victory," he said. "We're looking forward to the opportunity and we're going to prepare ourselves well. We're going to be ready to take on Oregon State and then we're going to go down to Eugene and try and take on Oregon."

Utah has had mixed results following victories this season. After defeating Idaho State (71-59) on Dec. 16, the Utes topped Portland (72-67) three days later. That win, however, was followed by a lopsided loss at Weber State (80-51) on Dec. 22.

Utah's 62-60 overtime triumph over Washington State on Jan. 5 preceded a hard-fought 57-53 setback to Washington in the next outing. Following a 62-43 victory over Arizona State on Jan. 21, the Utes suffered a lopsided 76-49 loss at UCLA.

GAME-WINNING SHOTS: In a span of one year and six days, Utah junior Chris Hines hit a pair of game-winning 3-point shots for the Utes. The first was a buzzer-beater in a 62-60 win at New Mexico. The second one came with 27 seconds remaining in Saturday's win over Stanford.

"I don't which one was bigger," Hines said. "I've thought about it a lot."

Although he noted that both shots were good, Hines hinted that this year's big shot was a little more difficult — all things considered.

MAKING STRIDES: Former Runnin' Ute Josh "Jiggy" Watkins, who was dismissed from the squad in January for an unspecified violation of team rules, would have been the lone "Senior Night" honoree on Saturday.

Circumstances, obviously, changed.

Earlier in the day, though, Watkins and his mother Lisa (from New York City) met with Utah athletics director Chris Hill.

"I really didn't know what to expect," Hill said of the meeting the Watkins' requested.

It turned out to be a positive.

"She was just so gracious and thanked us for continuing his education and providing all the academic support he wanted," Hill said before noting that Jiggy's mother then excused herself, leaving the two men to talk.

"Jiggy was great. He was very appreciative and we told him we'll do all we can to help him academically," Hill said. "So it was a tough situation. At the end of the day, though, he's here to get an education."

Watkins is still enrolled in school and is on track to earn his degree in May. His meeting with Hill was all about moving forward.

"He didn't spend time complaining about anything," Hill explained. "He spent his time on what his future is going to be."

And although Watkins' playing days at Utah are over, Krystowiak said the situation is far from complete.

"It hasn't ended yet because we need to make sure he gets a degree," the Utes' coach said. "But I think he's dialed in."

Progress is being made on several fronts.

"I think everybody's in a better place here and maybe kind of ready to move on to whatever lies ahead in the future for him," Krystkowiak said. ". . . It sure made us feel good to know that they took the time to stop in and come in. We're still thinking about Jiggy and wish him the best."

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer

Pac-12 basketball

Utah (6-22, 3-13) at Oregon State (15-13, 5-11)

Gill Coliseum: Corvallis, Ore.

Thursday, 8 p.m. (MT)

Radio: 700 AM

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