SALT LAKE CITY — Barring a meeting in the Pac-12 tournament and/or other postseason play, Sunday night’s game between Utah and Arizona State in the Huntsman Center could be the final collegiate battle between the Bachynski brothers — Dallin is a 7-foot junior center for the Utes (17-9, 6-8) and Jordan is a 7-foot-2 center for the Sun Devils (19-7, 8-5).
“It’s going to be big,” said Dallin, who noted that his parents, John and Yolanda, are traveling here from the family’s hometown of Calgary. Little sister Jessica is driving down from BYU-Idaho. At least one family dinner is planned. “It should be good just with the environment that we have.”
Battle lines, albeit friendly ones, may be drawn.
“I’m kind of feeling like my mom and dad are going to be cheering for my brother a little bit more just because it’s his senior year,” Dallin said. “It’s the last time we’ll be playing against each other potentially unless it’s in the Pac-12 tournament or whatnot. But it should be fun. I think we’ll get him.”
Both brothers are playing well. Jordan is averaging 11.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and a conference-leading 4.5 blocks per game. Dallin averages 6.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and one block. In Wednesday night’s 67-63 overtime loss to Arizona, Dallin nearly had a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds.
“I think he’s an energy guy,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak, who noted that Dallin did a nice job getting open around the basket and grabbed some big rebounds against the Wildcats. He also had a nice tip-dunk. “He does a little bit of the dirty work. He’s banging around inside and is maybe a little bit of a motor for our team as far as the big men go.”
Jordan, meanwhile, plays a different style. Krystkowiak said he’s a rim protector.
“I think that’s why (ASU) is in the upper third in our league for field goal percentage. He blocks more shots than a lot of teams do in college basketball,” Krystkowiak said. “So you can’t go in there weak and he’s got a really good sense of timing and obviously some length and can change the game.
“So we’ve got to be a little bit more intelligent on one side of it and we’ve got to be aggressive on the other side,” he added.
While acknowledging that contending with Jordan is a big part of Utah’s scouting report on Arizona State, Krystkowiak isn’t focusing on the battle of the brothers.
“It’s always great. It doesn’t happen very often in sports and the fact that they play the same position, you know, it’s always been interesting to talk about,” he said. “But ... it’s about figuring out a way to win the game. It’s a little chapter, I think, within the book. But that’s probably more for those guys to discuss in the offseason around the campfire or whatever they’ve got going.”
Although the brothers have squared off in Pac-12 games for the past two seasons, last month’s game in Tempe was the first in which both players saw extensive playing time. In ASU’s 79-75 victory, Jordan had 11 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks in 33 minutes. Dallin finished with six points and six rebounds in 24 minutes.
Last season, Dallin only played in one of two Utah-ASU games and logged only six minutes — scoring two points and grabbing a rebound in a 55-54 overtime loss in Tempe.
Jordan had 14 points, eight rebounds and one block in that game. He managed just two points, three rebounds and three blocks when Utah avenged the loss with a 60-55 win in Salt Lake City several weeks later.
“Last year he wouldn’t talk to me like the week, week and a half before (the games). But this year we just don’t talk basketball at all,” Dallin said. “So he’ll talk to me. He’ll ask me about the girl I’m dating, about school, about different video games that are coming out — PS4, stuff like that — but once basketball is mentioned he just completely shuts off.”
For a couple of hours, anyhow, basketball will be the focal point between the brothers this weekend. Sunday’s game may prove to be pivotal as far as Pac-12 tournament seeding is concerned.
“We’re just going to have to play a good game,” Dallin said. “I’ll have to shut my brother down a little bit, if I could at least.”
Arizona State (19-7, 8-5) at Utah (17-9, 6-8)
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