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Colorado vs. Utah basketball: A Rocky Mountain rivalry?

Published: Friday, Jan. 31 2014 4:25 p.m. MST

Head coach Larry Krystkowiak of the Utah Utes yells to his team during NCAA basketball against UCLA in Salt Lake City, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Head coach Larry Krystkowiak of the Utah Utes yells to his team during NCAA basketball against UCLA in Salt Lake City, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

BOULDER, Colo. — As far as rivalries go, the one between Colorado and Utah is still in its infancy — so say those involved in Saturday afternoon’s Pac-12 meeting of the Buffaloes and Utes at the Coors Events Center.

“I don’t know if it’s a rivalry or not,” said Colorado coach Tad Boyle. “We have great respect for Utah and their program in terms of basketball. I know since we came into the league everybody has tried to pit us against each other — whether it’s football, whether it’s basketball, whatever sport.”

Before joining the Pac-12 in 2011-12, the teams had met in basketball only 35 times dating back to 1913. They’ve since met five times over the past two seasons.

“I think rivalries develop over time and I’m not sure whether I would say it’s a rival game,” Boyle said. “They’re certainly our travel partner, but I know every time it’s tossed up Larry (Krystkowiak) wants to claw our eyes out and win, and we feel the same.

Colorado's Askia Booker gets ready to attempt a free throw against Arizona State during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, in Tempe, Ariz.  Arizona State defeated Colorado 72-51. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) (Ross D. Franklin, AP) Colorado's Askia Booker gets ready to attempt a free throw against Arizona State during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, in Tempe, Ariz. Arizona State defeated Colorado 72-51. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) (Ross D. Franklin, AP)

“But I don’t think there’s any special significance to the game against Utah versus any other game in the league as far as I’m concerned,” he continued. “But over time things develop and things evolve. I’m not saying it couldn’t evolve into that, but I don’t see it there right now.”

Krystkowiak has similar thoughts, noting that there’s not a lot of history between the programs.

“It has to stay intact for a while in order for it to become a rivalry,” Krystkowiak said.

Utah junior Dallin Bachynski noted that the issue is being forced and everyone should just sit back and let it come.

“I think after a few years maybe it will be more of a rivalry,” he said.

In the meantime, there’s more of a cooperative arrangement. Krystkowiak and Boyle have developed a friendship. As such, Krystkowiak said as coaches of the newbies in the conference they’ll often share ideas about opponents. However, when the Buffaloes and Utes meet, a line is drawn in the sand.

Colorado head coach Tad Boyle shouts instructions from the team bench area during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Arizona State Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, in Tempe, Ariz.  Arizona State defeated Colorado 72-51. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) (Ross D. Franklin, AP) Colorado head coach Tad Boyle shouts instructions from the team bench area during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Arizona State Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, in Tempe, Ariz. Arizona State defeated Colorado 72-51. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) (Ross D. Franklin, AP)

“At the end of the day it’s not a love-hate relationship,” Krystkowiak said. “It’s just, I think, a mutual respect relationship.”

As Pac-12 foes, though, Colorado has won four of the five meetings. Utah is 0-2 in Boulder, losing 73-33 the first season and 60-50 last year. The Buffaloes are backed by a strong student section at home that Krystkowiak acknowledged is solid and creates a great environment.

At 1-21 in conference road games, it’s not exactly the ideal situation for Utah. The Utes, however, are determined to break through after a series of close setbacks.

“The road is tough,” Bachynski said. “There’s no such thing as a perfect game, I think, but we just have to mess up less than they do.”

Colorado is vulnerable this time around. The Buffaloes are 1-3 in games without star guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in a loss at Washington in mid-January.

Krystkowiak, though, insists he’s not really worried about where the Buffaloes are right now.

“We’ve all got our own struggles. Everybody’s got a story to tell in terms of where their team is and I’m not really in a position to evaluate where somebody else is because we’ve got enough stuff going on here,” he said. “… And that’s what makes playing the game fun, you’ve got a couple of different storylines going to bang heads and see who comes out on top.”

EXTRA STUFF: Colorado is 12-1 at home this season. The lone loss was a 69-56 setback to UCLA. … Utah has lost three straight games in Boulder and is just 15-4 overall at Colorado. … The Buffaloes lead the all-time series over the Utes by a 24-16 margin. … Utah is one win away from the program’s 1,700th victory.

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