Utes finish season with four wins in last five games

Published: Monday, March 18 2013 8:00 p.m. MDT

Larry Krystkowiak coaches the Utah Utes during a men's basketball game against Oregon at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City Saturday, March 9, 2013. Utah won 72-62.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News, Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak acknowledged that there was some potential for the Utes (15-18) to play in the College Basketball Invitational.

In the end, though, it didn’t materialize.

Although CBI officials gauged Utah’s interest in participating, Krystkowiak said that no telephone call came after the NCAA and NIT announced their field and things trickled down.

“We’re okay with moving on,” Krystkowiak said. “There’s some validity and value to continuing to play, but also at the same time — with where we’re at — I feel like we finished off at a pretty good time. So I think we’re all OK with not being a part of postseason at this point.”

After reaching the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals before losing to eventual champion Oregon, the Utes finished on a relatively high note — winning four of their last five games.

“Finishing that way feels pretty darn good,” said Krystkowiak, who noted that he was proud of his team for sticking with it and playing their best basketball at the proper time of the year.

The 16-team CBI wound up taking two teams with losing records — Texas (16-17) and Purdue (15-17).

PRAISING OREGON: Krystkowiak is happy to see five Pac-12 teams in the NCAA tourney. He found Oregon’s No. 12 seed, though, surprising — as did a lot of folks.

“It’s hard to sort out the numbers,” he said. “I do know that’s got to be one of best No. 12 seeds in the history of the tournament, in my opinion.”

Krystkowiak expressed empathy, however, for the tournament decision-makers.

“I can’t imagine what’s going on behind closed doors with that committee and trying to sort it all out,” he said.

REFLECTION TIME: When asked if he was satisfied with Utah’s season, Krystkowiak said such a question represented a little bit of gray area for him. He’s still wrestling with games like the losses to Sacramento State, Cal State Northridge and the overtime setback at Arizona State.

“I am going to take a period of time and kind of beat myself up a little bit for some of the things that could have gone our way,” said Krystkowiak, who explained that he still in kind of a postseason hangover of sorts.

However, not all is bad. After winning four of their last five games, the Utes gave Krystkowiak reason to pinch himself and keep things in perspective.

“We’re making progress. I know that we’re building some things and making strides, moving forward, and I feel good about it,” Krystkowiak said. “I think there’s a little bit of momentum with our recruiting and fan base.”

Utah’s nine-game improvement was the program’s biggest single-season jump since the Utes went 28-6 in 1994-95, up from 14-14 the previous campaign.

EXTRA STUFF: Senior center Jason Washburn finished his Utah career with 1,073 points — putting him between Byron Wilson (1,087) and Britton Johnson (1,051) at 32nd overall. … Washburn and junior Glen Dean were the only Utes to play in all 33 games this season. … Krystkowiak plans to attend this week’s NCAA Tournament games at EnergySolutions Arena.

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer

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