Utah basketball: Utes working to shore things up

Published: Monday, March 4 2013 4:45 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — As Utah prepares to close out the regular season this week against Oregon State and Oregon in the Huntsman Center, head coach Larry Krystkowiak admits it’ll be a challenge to fix what’s broken before the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas.

Rebounding and ill-time turnovers proved to be big deficiencies in recent losses at California (64-46) and Stanford (84-66).

“We had a rough couple of games in the Bay Area,” said Krystkowiak, who noted that the Utes have an opportunity to get a couple of good days of practice in to shore things up.

The goal, he explained, is to get things clicking as they head into next week’s conference tourney.

Krystkowiak added that its more about making plays and playing with consistency than anything else.

“At this point we’re probably not going to gain a lot of momentum heading into Vegas,” he said. “We’re going to feel better about how we’re playing the game and hopefully not making some of those mistakes.”

SLAMMED BY STANFORD: The Utes didn’t fare so well against the Cardinal this season — losing the two meetings by a combined score of 171-122.

“I think Stanford’s had our number and beat us worse than any team in our league,” Krystkowiak acknowledged. “But it’s not time to recreate the wheel here and abort the plan and come up with something new.”

The latest loss, he explained, was more of an indication that the Utes need to revisit some basic stuff.

“We need to get back to training camp, starting today, in terms of the simple fundamentals of defense,” Krystkowiak said.

TUCKER UPDATE: Utah freshman Dakarai Tucker and the Utes got some good news Monday morning. The knee injury he suffered in Thursday’s loss at Cal didn’t involve his ACL as initially thought. Concerns of such kept Tucker out of Sunday’s setback at Stanford.

“There was a lot of gray area with his diagnosis,” said Krystkowiak, who defined the injury as a sprain after speaking with the team physician. Tucker is expected to be out on the court, working with the trainer, when practice begins this week. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s back in action. He wanted to play Sunday.”

Krystkowiak went on to call Tucker a “warrior” and is hopeful to get him back in the mix.

Tucker had seven points in 27 minutes before suffering the injury in Berkeley.

LONG JOURNEY: So much for getting to the airport in a timely fashion. The Utes did a lot of waiting after making the trip to San Francisco following Sunday afternoon’s game at Stanford. Because of flight delays, including fog-related issues, the team didn’t end up getting back on campus in Salt Lake City until approximately 3 a.m.

EXTRA STUFF: The Utes are 9-7 at home, assuring them of a 42nd non-losing season in the 44-year-old arena. However, they’ve never gone .500 in the facility — something that could happen with two games (Oregon State, Oregon) left to play . . . As the season winds down, there are tight battles for team scoring and rebounding leaders. Jarred DuBois (12.0 ppg), Jordan Loveridge (11.6 ppg) and Jason Washburn (11.4 ppg) are the top scorers. The rebound race involves Loveridge (6.7 rpg) and Washburn (6.5 rpg) . . . Utah is 12-10 against Oregon State. The Beavers, though, have won the last six meetings.

Utes on the air

Oregon State (13-16, 3-13) at Utah (11-17, 3-13)

Huntsman Center

Thursday, 7 p.m.

TV: ESPNU

Radio: ESPN 700AM

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer

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