SALT LAKE CITY — Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak made it clear after Sunday’s record-tying 87-56 loss to Stanford in the Huntsman Center. There won’t be a lack of energy in anything the Utes do the rest of the season.
Krystkowiak emphasized that he’s not going to tolerate the effort and lack of mental concentration his team showed against the Cardinal. It matched last season’s setback to Cal State Fullerton as the program’s most lopsided defeat in arena history.
“If there’s any complacency with our team we have no chance, and I’ve tried to tell them from the beginning,” Krystkowiak said. “We’re not the favorites in any of these games regardless of what we think.”
At 9-11 overall and 1-7 in Pac-12 play, the Utes face a challenging season-ending stretch. Before heading to the conference tournament in Las Vegas (March 13-16), their final 10 games consist of home-and-away matchups against Colorado, Oregon State and Oregon. There are also Huntsman Center dates with Arizona State and Arizona, as well as road trips to California and Stanford.
With another six weeks or so to go in the season, Krystkowiak vows to fight right down to the final buzzer.
“I’m going to go down swinging — (and find) the guys that want to do that,” he said.
Utah didn’t put up much of a battle against Stanford. The Utes never led while giving up season highs in points (87), field goals (30) and rebound differential (minus-16).
As was the case with many of their setbacks, the Utes were stymied by a slow start. It’s something they’ve talked about fixing. However, a consistent solution has yet to be found.
“We’ve just got to come ready — find a way to come out ready to play and start winning games,” said junior forward Renan Lenz, who explained that everything should be motivation at this point and the Utes just have to get after it.
Freshman guard Justin Seymour, who led Utah with 14 points against Stanford, acknowledged it’s about playing with pride.
“If you want to win you’ll come out and play hard,” he said. “If you don’t want to play hard then we’ll just keep getting beat like we have been.”
The Utes enter Saturday’s game against Colorado (12:30 p.m.) on a four-game skid in the Huntsman Center. For whatever reason, Seymour said the players have come out at home like they’re the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s. The approach, obviously, hasn’t translated into success on the scoreboard.
“That’s not who we are,” Seymour said. “We’ve got to come out and play every game hard. We’re always the underdog.”
EXTRA STUFF: Former Utah coach Rick Majerus, who passed away on Dec. 1, will be honored with a sweater-retirement ceremony at halftime of Saturday’s game.
Lenz scored eight points in 23 minutes off the bench. He led Utah with eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
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