Utah basketball: Utes finish with 18-2 record at the Huntsman Center
Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — A crowd of 12,027 was on hand as Utah capped its Huntsman Center schedule with a 75-64 victory over Colorado Saturday afternoon. The win upped the Utes’ record on their home floor to 18-2. The only losses were overtime setbacks to Pac-12 foes Oregon and Arizona, both ranked in the top 10 at the time of the meetings.
“That’s that (darn) little asterisk, isn’t it,” joked Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “The regulation thing — Oregon and Arizona.”
Krystkowiak then acknowledged that the Utes did hold serve at home.
“I think you’ve got to do that if you want to be a good team, if you want to be in the upper end of your league. I think you’ve got to take care of service at home,” he said. “Our Achilles’ heel has been the road, you know. That’s the next step.”
The success at home, however, is a sign of progress for a team in the midst of its best season in five years. Attendance topped 10,000 per game for the first time since 2005-06.
“I think we just owed it to the fans,” said sophomore forward Jordan Loveridge. “We had a lot more fan support this year and then all the preparation — all the workouts in the summer we did here — we just didn’t want anyone to come in here and beat us or disappoint the fans.”
SENIOR DAY: Utah honored departing seniors Renan Lenz and Xan Ricketts before their final scheduled home game. The players, who were joined at midcourt for a pregame ceremony by their families and Krystkowiak, received a framed jersey and a video tribute. Lenz’s farewell also included the playing of the Brazilian national anthem.
END OF AN ERA ... PERHAPS: Barring a possible NIT game, Saturday’s contest could be Utah’s Huntsman Center finale before arena renovations take place. The “cloud” that hovers over the court holding lights is slated for removal, as is the sound system that athletics director Chris Hill said blows “your ears in the wrong direction.”
When the game ended, Hill acknowledged thinking about the impending changes and telling his wife Kathy that this might be the last game with the iconic “cloud” in place.
Sophomore guard Brandon Taylor has also reflected on it a bit.
“I really can’t imagine it looking any different. But I guess it’s a sense of new and stuff like that,” said Taylor, who noted that the Huntsman Center has so much history behind it and looks historic. “I guess it’s time. It’s a new generation. It’s a new time period.”
Even so, Taylor doesn’t expect it to feel any different.
“I’m just curious to see what it’s going to look like,” he said.
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