Utah basketball: Utes geared up for Pac-12 road opener at Washington
, Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
SEATTLE — Good or bad, Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak doesn't like to look back. Even as the Utes prepare to play at the only Pac-12 road venue where they left victorious over their first two seasons in the conference, he’s not putting any extra significance on it.
Wednesday’s late-night game at Washington is simply the next challenge his squad faces in trying to get better.
At 12-2 overall and 1-1 in Pac-12 play, they’ve already made major strides in terms of improvement. A lack of road games, though, has made one area of shortcoming tough to address.
The Utes have played just one game on the road this season — a 69-67 loss at Boise State in December. This trip to face the Huskies at Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion will be their second. It’ll also be their initial shot at rectifying a 1-17 mark in Pac-12 games away from the Huntsman Center. Their lone win was a 74-65 victory over Washington last January in Seattle.
“In order to be successful you’ve got to win some road games. They kind of go hand in hand. I’m not putting any pressure on our guys and we don’t talk much about what’s gone on in the past,” Krystkowiak said. “A lot of them weren’t a part of it. I think the most important thing is finding the balance between having some confidence as we go on to the road and knowing that we’ve got the ability — maybe a little different skill level to compete — but also knowing that it’s going to be a grind.”
Krystkowiak acknowledged that after being dependent on what he called great home crowds the Utes will face adverse situations on the road. As such, Krystkowiak said that tempo will be a key — explaining that they’ll run whenever the opportunity presents itself. He added that possessions are special and that execution will be pivotal to success.
In reviewing tape of Washington’s 76-65 win over Arizona State and 71-62 setback to top-ranked Arizona last week, Krystkowiak noted that the Huskies got a lot of transition baskets.
“They look a lot more definitive and cleaner with their execution in the conference season than they did in a lot of the preseason,” Krystkowiak said.
Washington is led by senior guard C.J. Wilcox. The former Pleasant Grove High School star averages 20.2 points per game, second-most in the Pac-12.
Utah’s focus, Krystkowiak emphasized, is on the Huskies. The big picture about success away from home is secondary to the task at hand.
“Instead of us thinking about any momentum on the road it’s all about Seattle on Wednesday night and doing what’s necessary to try to get a win,” Krystkowiak said.
EXTRA STUFF: Washington leads the all-times series with Utah by a 7-6 margin. ... The Utes will return to Salt Lake City Thursday and fly to Pullman, Wash., via charter on Saturday for Sunday’s game at Washington State. ... Utah shot 60 percent from the field in last year’s win at Washington, the best accuracy the Utes have had in Pac-12 play since joining the conference in 2011-12.
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