SALT LAKE CITY — Colorado coach Tad Boyle insists the Buffaloes won’t be out for revenge when they host the Utah Utes on Thursday. That’s not their focus, despite a disappointing 58-55 setback in the Huntsman Center on Feb. 2.
“I’m not a big guy on revenge. I do want to play better than we did in Salt Lake because I don’t think that was the Colorado team that I know and that our fans know,” Boyle said. “I think the fans that came out in Salt Lake for Utah that day didn’t see the real Colorado basketball team, either. It’s our job to play better than we did in Salt Lake, both offensively and defensively with passion, with energy.”
The Buffaloes shot just 40 percent from the field at Utah and turned the ball over 14 times.
“Certainly our execution has to be better,” said Boyle, who noted that avenging the loss isn’t even on his mind. “It’s an important game because of where we are and what’s at stake for our basketball team. Our players know that and we better be ready to go Thursday night because I know Utah will come in here ready to go.”
Colorado (17-8, 7-6) is in dire need of a victory after Saturday’s buzzer-beating 63-62 loss at home to Arizona State. The defending Pac-12 tourney champions are currently in a logjam when it comes to this year’s seeding. With five games left to play, the Buffaloes are tied for fifth with USC and in position to move higher.
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak is expecting Colorado to come out fired up regardless of how the last meeting turned out.
“We’re kind of at that point in the season, I think, where there’s a sense of urgency for every team involved to try to get some games and jockey for position for this tournament,” he said. “A team like Colorado is an at-large possibility and these games have a little different magnitude for them on top of the tournament.”
As such, Krystkowiak downplayed the revenge factor in Thursday’s game at the Coors Events Center. He’s not really concerned, anyway, about what the Buffaloes are thinking about.
Utah (11-14, 3-10) is also jockeying for a higher seed in the Pac-12 Tournament. The Utes are currently tied with Oregon State for 10th, one game ahead of last place Washington State.
Boyle, who guided Colorado to three wins over Utah last year (including a 73-33 blasting in Boulder), noted that the Utes are much improved this season. He credits Krystkowiak for having unbelievable patience with his players in a very difficult situation, adding that’s done a terrific job.
“Rebuilding programs at this level takes time and they’re on the right track,” Boyle said. “There’s no question in my mind.”
EXTRA STUFF: Colorado center Josh Scott, who was hit in the head by an elbow in Saturday’s loss to ASU, is still listed as “day-to-day” as this week’s game approaches . . . Utah is just 4-14 in Boulder. The Utes’ last win there was in 2003 . . . Colorado’s Andre Roberson leads the nation in rebounding with 11.8 per game. Teammate Spencer Dinwiddie is averaging 23 points over the past three outings.
Utah (11-14, 3-10) at Colorado (17-8, 7-6)
Coors Events Center, Boulder
Thursday, 8 p.m.
TV: Pac-12 Network
Radio: ESPN 700AM