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Utah Utes basketball: Coach Larry Krystkowiak wants Utes to get back to basics

Published: Wednesday, March 6 2013 10:55 p.m. MST

Utah Utes center Jason Washburn (42) slams over Arizona in Salt Lake City  Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013.  (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Utah Utes center Jason Washburn (42) slams over Arizona in Salt Lake City Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Larry Krystkowiak's Montana upbringing surfaced as the Utah Utes prepared for Thursday night's home game against Oregon State (ESPNU, 7 p.m.). With his team mired in a four-game skid, the second-year head coach of the Utes wants them to get back to some "meat and potatoes stuff."

It's the simple things, really, that Krystkowiak is seeking as the Utes gear up for next week's Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas.

"It's not time to get complicated with it. I think maybe that's where we've lost track of some of those fundamentals that we have to get back to," Krystkowiak said. "That's where a lot of our errors took place over the weekend, just forgetting some of those things."

Part of it, he explained, is youth. Playing against different zones has also added to the difficulties. So, too, is trouble rebounding the ball.

Former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan talks with the University of Utah players after practice in Salt Lake City Wednesday, March 6, 2013. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan talks with the University of Utah players after practice in Salt Lake City Wednesday, March 6, 2013. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

To combat the situation, Krystkowiak wants the Utes to get back to the basics — mastering things like pass and catch and putting the ball in the basket. It won't be easy, he noted, against an athletic and versatile opponent like Oregon State. The Beavers have plenty of firepower.

"It's a heckuva challenge for us," Krystkowiak said.

The two teams, though, are in a similar situation at 3-13 in conference play. Thursday's winner will most likely secure the No. 10 seed in the tournament.

As such, Utah's Jarred DuBois isn't looking ahead to Saturday's "Senior Night" contest against Oregon. There's business to take care of first as the rebuilding Utes seek to improve on last season's 11th-place finish.

"I think Thursday is a big-time game for us. We can get into 10th place," he said. "So I think it's a very big opportunity for our team."

Another storyline involves senior center Jason Washburn. He's just two points away from becoming the 35th player in Utah history to score 1,000 points in his career.

"I had to do it at home, I guess," Washburn said. "The basketball gods said, 'You're doing this at home.' "

Washburn netted only 14 points over losses at California and Stanford last week. The 6-foot-10 center averages a team-high 13 points per game in Pac-12 contests.

"I would have rather gotten it out of the way," Washburn said of reaching the milestone. "Hopefully, in theory, I should get it on Thursday."

The extra time to think about it, however, has Washburn wondering how it'll come. Will it be a wide-open layup, a dunk, or on an "and one" or on 3-pointer?

"Hopefully someone will just bless me with one just fantastic shot," Washburn said. "But whatever it is, is whatever it is. I didn't think I would have this kind of time to sit here and think about what I was going to do because I thought I would get it in the midst of a game where I was just scoring the basketball.

"Now it's the first bucket I get this weekend," he continued. "Knowing me, I'll probably get fouled and end up shooting free throws — miss one of them, make the other one. Something like that, watch."

However it comes, though, Washburn acknowledged "it'll feel good."

EXTRA STUFF: Utah leads the all-time series with Oregon State 12-10, including a 9-1 advantage in Salt Lake City. … The Beavers are led by junior guard Roberto Nelson, who leads the Pac-12 with 19.4 points per game in conference play. … Senior Joe Burton, a 6-foot-7, 295-pound forward/center, is on the verge of making Oregon State history. He's six points away from becoming the program's first player to score 1,000 points, grab 700 rebounds and dish out 300 assists in his career. … The Utah football team will be at the game. A couple of players will participate in a halftime dunk contest.

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: DirkFacer

Utes on the air

Oregon State (13-16, 3-13)

at Utah (11-17, 3-13)

Huntsman Center

Thursday, 7 p.m.

TV: ESPNU

Radio: ESPN 700 AM

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