SALT LAKE CITY — For the first time in 68 years, the Utah and Utah State men's basketball teams didn't face each other this season. And they won't be playing next year or the year after that, either.
However, the two longtime rivals will renew their series in the 2014-15 season with a game at the Huntsman Center, according to Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. The Utes and Aggies have scheduled a four-year, home-and-home series, the Utes' coach said.
You can also count on the Utes having a much easier schedule in the future than they have had in recent years with more home games than ever.
This year, as in most years, the Utes had just as many away games as home, but that will change next year when the Utes will have as many as 19 home games. That will put them more in line with other Pac-12 schools, who play a minimum of 17 home games. For the past three decades, the Utes have averaged 15 home games per year.
Although next year's schedule is far from complete, Utah director of basketball operations Norm Parrish said the Utes will play as many as 10 of their 12 nonconference games at home, including three "exempt" games in Salt Lake over Thanksgiving weekend against teams to be determined.
During the preseason, the Utes will play just two games on the road, one against BYU on Dec. 8 and another to be determined. Two home games that are already set are against Fresno State on Dec. 1 and Boise State on Dec. 5.
Although it hasn't been determined yet, the Utes may play home-and-home games against both Utah State and BYU in the future with an away game against one of the two every year. However, the Utes aren't likely to continue their long series with Weber State unless the Wildcats agree to come to Salt Lake most years.
KRYSTKO AND BOYLE: Except for his former college coach Mike Montgomery and former NBA teammate Johnny Dawkins, Krystkowiak is closer to Colorado coach Tad Boyle more than any other coach in the league.
Krystkowiak said that during the season, the two have talked almost every week because they are "travel partners" and play the same teams every weekend. Both coached in the Big Sky, with Krystkowiak finishing at Montana in 2005-06, and Boyle taking over at Northern Colorado the following year.
Last week, the Utah and Colorado teams happened to stay in the same hotel in Eugene, Ore., which gave the coaches a chance to talk in person rather than on the phone.
"We've got similar friends in the business and we've spoken about after every road trip during the league," Krystkowiak said. "In Oregon we sat down at the fireplace and chatted a little bit. We didn't think we were going to be playing each other again, because it took some special things to happen for it to line up like it did."1 comment on this story
Krystkowiak hopes to follow Boyle's footsteps in turning around the Ute program. Boyle went 4-24 in his first year at Northern Colorado, and by the fourth year his team was 25-8.
UTE NOTES: Utah's opening game in the Pac-12 tournament against Colorado begins at 9:40 p.m. MST and will be televised on Fox Sports Net. ... If the Utes happen to get past Colorado Wednesday night, they'll get another shot at Oregon, the team that handed them the worst loss in school history last Saturday. ... Not only did the Utes finish in 11th place in the final Pac-12 standings, they also finished 11th in 10 different statistical categories, including scoring offense, scoring defense, field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, offensive rebounding, rebounding margin, blocked shots, assists, turnover margin and assist/turnover ratio. ... Utah center Jason Washburn finished fourth in field goal percentage, sixth in blocked shots, eighth in rebounding, 10th in free throw percentage and 24th in scoring. ... Utah finished fourth in the league in paid attendance with an average of 8,394, but it was the lowest average since the Huntsman Center opened in 1969.