A thorn in our side is our turnovers, we get a little bit loose and lose our discipline. —Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak
SALT LAKE CITY — There shouldn’t be much to complain about in a 57-point victory, but Utah basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak found a few negative things after last week’s 104-47 victory over Willamette.
Topping the list was turnovers. The Utes finished the night with 19, an unacceptable number that they want corrected heading into Friday night’s game against Sacramento State.
The Utes (1-0) and Hornets (2-0) will play for the first time ever in a game that tips off at 7 p.m. at the Huntsman Center.
Not only did the Utes have 19 turnovers in their season opener, they had 20 in the exhibition win a week earlier against Simon Fraser. Last year when the Utes weren’t very good at all, they averaged 14 for the season and only once had more than 19 turnovers.
“A thorn in our side is our turnovers,’’ said Krystkowiak. “We get a little bit loose and lose our discipline. That’s going to be an Achilles heel for us — we’ve got to get more shots.’’
Krystkowiak says he doesn’t put a specific goal on the number of turnovers each game, rather he wants to average no more than 18 or 19 percent of the total possessions. Since the Utes had 78 possessions in the game, the percentage was about 25 percent, much too high for the Utes’ liking.
“We got a little sloppy with the ball,’’ he said. “We’re trying to see something that’s not there. I don’t mind the illegal screens or three-second call as much, but when it’s a passing, decision-making turnover, then I’ve got problems with that. At the end of the day, a possession is worth a point in college basketball.’’
Krystkowiak also wants improvement on the defensive end, saying his team had “a lot of breakdowns” and “a hard time guarding the ball at the point of attack.’’ The Utes held Willamette to 22 percent shooting from the field, but Krystkowiak said his team allowed too many open shots, which were just missed.
Sacramento State, which plays in the Big Sky Conference with Weber State and Southern Utah, comes into the game with comfortable home victories over UC Merced and CSU Bakersfield.
The Hornets are led by a pair of 6-foot-2 sophomores, Mikh McKinney and Dylan Garrity, who scored 23 and 21 points, respectively, in Wednesday night’s victory.
John Dickson, a 6-6 senior, is second on the team in scoring at 16.5 points per game and leads in rebounding (7.5 rpg).
“I know they’ve got a really nice backcourt and a post player that gets stuff done,’’ said Krystkowiak.
Like last week, the Utes will have a distinct size advantage with Jason Washburn, Dallin Bachynski, Renan Lenz and Jeremy Olsen all standing 6-9 or taller.
UTE NOTES: Senior guard Jarred DuBois, who sat out last week’s game with a hip injury, has practiced this week and is expected to play against Sacramento State. Next week the Utes will host three schools in the first Thanksgiving Classic. It will be a round-robin format with the Utes playing Idaho State Wednesday, Central Michigan Friday and Wright State Saturday. Prior to Friday’s game, the Utah women will play Michigan at 4:30 p.m. at the Huntsman Center.