SALT LAKE CITY — Last year’s initial “Battle of the Bachynski Brothers’’ turned out to be a dud when an overly anxious Dallin picked up four quick fouls in just six minutes playing against his older brother, Jordan, in Arizona State’s 55-54 overtime win over Utah.
Dallin is hoping to stay on the court a little longer this time when he goes against his brother and his Utes take on the Sun Devils Thursday night at Wells Fargo Arena at 7 p.m. MST.
The brothers’ parents will be down from their hometown of Calgary, Canada, likely wearing hats and T-shirts that have a special logo with a Sun Devils logo and “AS” on one side and a “U” and a drum and feather on the other. They’ll cheer for their sons and though mother, Yolonda, will probably be biting her nails the whole game, according to Dallin, they’ll be happy for at least one of their boys by the end of the night.
The 7-foot Dallin, who has been an integral part of the 14-4 Ute team while coming off the bench, is excited to play against his 7-foot-2 brother, who has been a mainstay on the ASU front line for four years and currently leads the nation in blocked shots at 4.5 per game.
The two brothers are two years apart and talk regularly on the phone. Dallin is nervous, though, hoping he didn’t light a fire under his brother when he was trying to give him some comfort in a conversation they had earlier this week.
“He started the year off really well and he played his best game against Missouri, but since then, he’s had a little bit of a drought,’’ Dallin said. “He’s kind of due for a good game, and when I mentioned that, he said, ‘you’re right, it’s true.’ I thought to myself, ‘I should have told him after the game.’ ’’
But Dallin also knows he can play a part in making sure his brother doesn’t have a great game against the Utes.
“I’ll do my best to box him out so he can’t have any offensive boards and can’t have any easy tip-ins,’’ he said. “I need to stop him from getting some defensive boards and that way maybe I get can going a little bit.’’
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak says, “Obviously there’s a nice little sidebar here having a couple of siblings competing against each other, which doesn’t happen very often.’’
He also noted that because Jeremy Olsen will be Utah’s starting center, Dallin won’t necessarily be playing against his brother all that much. “It might help to bring him in about the time his brother is coming out,’’ Krystkowiak said.
However, with Jordan averaging 30 minutes per game, Dallin is bound to be going against his brother for good chunks of the game.
While you’d think the two might know each other’s games backwards and forward, the truth is, they’ve rarely played against each other over the past five years.
Jordan was away on an LDS mission to Florida while Dallin was finishing up high school in Canada and playing a year at Southern Utah. Then when Dallin went to Croatia on his mission, Jordan was playing his first two years at Arizona State. Dallin spent the past two summers in Utah, while Jordan was either in Arizona or playing for the Canadian national team. They did play together when they were younger, however.
“We played against each other every once in a while,’’ Dallin says. “The problem was, it rarely ended well. My mom would say, 'don’t play, don’t play.’ ”
So is there anything Dallin can do against Jordan, using some of his inside knowledge he’s learned over the past two decades?
“I don’t want to tell the media that,’’ Dallin said with a smile.
But he did offer something.
“One thing most people know is that he loves to block shots and he’s extremely good at it.’’ Dallin said. “I need to make sure I do a few shot fakes and also be ready for dump-offs and be a good help when my teammates penetrate.’’
Dallin has progressed a lot since last season when, after a strong start to his initial Ute season, he had some personal issues that resulted in him hardly playing the last part of Utah’s season and not even getting into the game against Arizona State in February. His coach isn’t worried about him making more of Thursday's matchup than he should.
“I think he’s in a pretty good place right now,’’ Krystkowiak said. “He’s come a long way and understands what this is all about. It’s not about anything to put in the scrapbook, besides trying to beat his brother’s team, not to try to beat his brother.’’
GAME NOTES: Renan Lenz, who missed last week’s games with a sprained left ankle, has been practicing this week and is expected to be ready to play in Sunday’s game at Arizona, but not Thursday night’s game. The Utes and Sun Devils will play again on Feb. 23 in Salt Lake. The Bachynskis have a younger sister, Jessica, who used to play basketball for Utah Valley but is now a student at BYU-Idaho. She will be at the February Utah-ASU game, according to Dallin. After Thursday’s game, the Utes will stay in Phoenix for a couple of days before heading down to Tucson Saturday evening to get ready for No. 1-ranked Arizona Sunday at 6 p.m. MST.