Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Although the Utah Utes have already surpassed last season’s win total, head coach Larry Krystkowiak acknowledged that they’re still very much a work in progress. After improving to 7-3 with a hard-fought 62-53 victory over SMU Tuesday night, he noted some things that need to be corrected before Friday night’s game against Cal State Northridge.
“We’ve got a couple of new fires to put out with some execution and decision making, and you just jump back in the saddle for Friday night. You try to do it all over again,” Krystkowiak said. “It’s always fun when you can win by a lot of points. But the reality is with our team, right now, we’re going to be in some dog fights. We just kind of have to accept it and battle until the end.”
Utah weathered eight lead changes and five ties in knocking off the Mustangs (8-3). The Utes had 10 players log 10 or more minutes. The bench highlighted the effort. True freshmen Justin Seymour and Brandon Taylor netted 11 and 10 points, respectively — making key shots at critical junctures. Senior Jason Washburn added 10 points as the Utah reserves outscored SMU, 35-6.
“There were a lot of guys that I think stayed persistent with the effort and never stopped,” Krystkowiak said.
Jordan Loveridge grabbed a team-high seven rebounds and Washburn pulled down six and had three blocks. Aaron Dotson recorded four assists and Seymour had three steals.
Utah’s defense will be put to the test against CS Northridge. The Matadors come to town averaging 81.8 points per game, ninth-highest average in the nation. The Utes, meanwhile, are giving up just 66.3 points per game.
EXTRA STUFF: The Utes are going to honor their 1944 NCAA championship team at halftime. CS Northridge dropped an 87-75 decision at BYU on Nov. 24. The Utes have won all six previous meetings against the Matadors. CS Northridge is the youngest team in the nation with no seniors and just three juniors in the program.
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