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Utah basketball: Utes looking to combine positives as Pac-12 play continues

Published: Monday, Jan. 6 2014 11:15 p.m. MST

Utah Utes center Jeremy Olsen (41) is fouled by Oregon State Beavers center Angus Brandt (12) while going to the basket during a game at the Jon M. Huntsman Center on Saturday, January 4, 2014.  (Matt Gade, Deseret News) Utah Utes center Jeremy Olsen (41) is fouled by Oregon State Beavers center Angus Brandt (12) while going to the basket during a game at the Jon M. Huntsman Center on Saturday, January 4, 2014. (Matt Gade, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — After looking at last week’s games against Oregon and Oregon State, Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak is calling for a combination of sorts as the Utes prepare to visit Washington on Wednesday.

Krystkowiak explained that the Utes played tremendous defense against the Ducks last Thursday, but were a little bit sluggish on offense in the overtime setback.

In Saturday’s win over the Beavers, Krystkowiak noted that the Utes shot the ball as well as they have all season. With the exception of Brandon Taylor, though, he felt they were really poor on defense.

“The point to me as we move into these (Pac-12) games, particularly on the road, is we can’t have any deficiency in one area,” Krystkowiak said. “If we’re really that poor on offense as we were on Thursday or really that poor on defense as we were on Saturday then we’re going to be vulnerable and not win as many games as we’d like.”

Utah Utes forward Marko Kovacevic (1) puts down a dunk in front of the St. Katherine Firebirds defense during a game at the Jon M. Hunstman Center on Saturday, December 28, 2013.  (Matt Gade, Deseret News) Utah Utes forward Marko Kovacevic (1) puts down a dunk in front of the St. Katherine Firebirds defense during a game at the Jon M. Hunstman Center on Saturday, December 28, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News)

The solution, he explained, is to figure out a way to combine the two things the team does well.

“We’ve got to shore up. You can’t have such a deficiency in one area and expect to win many games,” Krystkowiak said. “We were lucky on Saturday, I thought, with the way we shot the ball. We were presented with a lot of looks and they went in. But defensively we were really bad.”

Krystkowiak later added: “I think we’re a pretty darn good team when we’re getting stops.”

MEN IN THE MIDDLE: Krystkowiak continued to praise centers Jeremy Olsen, Dallin Bachynski and Marko Kovacevic.

“I love our fives,” Krytskowiak said. “They give us a little bit of different looks.”

Olsen scored 14 points in his first start of the game last Saturday. Bachynski has provided energy off the bench. And Krystkowiak said Kovacevic just needs more reps and practice time to work into the rotation.

Utah Utes center Dallin Bachynski (31)blocks the shot by Oregon Ducks forward Richard Amardi (13) during the PAC 12 season opener in Salt Lake City  Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014.  Oregon won 70-68.  (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Utah Utes center Dallin Bachynski (31)blocks the shot by Oregon Ducks forward Richard Amardi (13) during the PAC 12 season opener in Salt Lake City Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. Oregon won 70-68. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SOLID SUPPORT: Last week’s crowds at the Huntsman Center left quite an impact on Krystkowiak. The Utes drew 13,426 fans for the Oregon game last Thursday and 14,044 for the Saturday afternoon tilt with Oregon State.

“I get goosebumps thinking about it,” said Krystkowiak, who watches a lot of college basketball and has seen a lot of empty seats at smaller venues on television and film. “It’s really hard to fathom that we’ve got 13,000 or 14,000. I feel real lucky and I think our players feel real fortunate.”

Utah’s large crowds came despite school not being in session. The new semester began Monday.

“I’m thrilled. I tweeted it out that I was thankful for everybody coming, especially since the students weren’t even back on Thursday and Saturday,” said Krystkowiak, who is hopeful for additional support in the future. “I expect nothing but potentially even a little improvement and more excitement.”

Email: dirk@desnews.com Twitter: @DirkFacer

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