EUGENE, Ore. — Utah forward Kyle Kuzma sprained his ankle in practice and did not play in the Utes’ 79-61 loss at seventh-ranked Oregon.
The junior leads the team in scoring (15.7 points per game) and rebounding (10.2).
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said it was obvious that not having Kuzma had an impact on the game plan.
“He’s been one of our more productive players,” Krystkowiak noted. “So we’ve got to fill that gap a little bit.”
Freshman center Jayce Johnson came off the bench to lead the Utes with a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds. Kuzma gave him some insight from the bench.
“He was just kind of like giving me pointers, things that I was doing wrong and things that I could fix,” said Johnson, who received encouragement as well.
Kuzma is considered “day-to-day” as Utah shifts its focus to Sunday night’s game at Oregon State. He suffered an ankle injury in December at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii, where the Utes lost an 89-86 decision to San Francisco.
SEEN THEM ALL: Utah athletics director Dr. Chris Hill attended the game and has now seen all the basketball facilities in the Pac-12.
“It’s the last one I haven’t been to,” Hill said. “It’s a beautiful arena.”
Matthew Knight Arena, a 12,364-seat venue that opened in 2011, cost $227 million to build.
Hill noted that it reminded him of Oregon’s previous home, McArthur Court, in terms of the steepness of everything and how close the fans are to the floor. Mac Court, as it was called, opened in 1927 and had a capacity of 9,087.
Oregon’s new home has a distinct floor featuring the outline of trees and the term “Deep in the Woods” painted on it.
“I don’t want to be critical but a little busy for me,” said Hill, who added that it doesn’t seem as busy in person as it does on television.
LONG TRIP: The Utes arrived here Wednesday and will stay on the road until chartering a flight back to Salt Lake City after the Oregon State game Sunday night.
Utah center David Collette, a self-proclaimed “homebody,” acknowledged it’s not an ideal situation.Comment on this story
“I hate being away from home. So I never like traveling a whole lot,” Collette said. “I mean it’s fun being out (here) but it’s certainly a challenge being gone for so long.”
EXTRA STUFF: Oregon wore bright “Electric Green” uniforms for the game . . . Scouts from the Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs were credentialed for the game . . . Former Oregon track star Matthew Centrowitz Jr., who won the gold medal in the 1,500 meters at the Rio Olympics, was honored during the game.