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Utah basketball: Runnin' Utes eager to start new chapter in Las Vegas

Published: Friday, July 31 2015 7:46 p.m. MDT

Arizona State's Jahii Carson (1) guards Utah's Brandon Taylor, left, in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)  (Rick Bowmer, AP) Arizona State's Jahii Carson (1) guards Utah's Brandon Taylor, left, in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) (Rick Bowmer, AP)

STANFORD, Calif. — Utah guard Brandon Taylor was incredulous when asked if the Utes could bounce back from Saturday’s 61-60 loss at Stanford.

“Of course, it’s the end of the regular season,” Taylor said before departing Maples Pavilion. “We’ve still got a tournament to go to.”

There’s bouncing back, he added. It’s more like starting fresh.

The Utes (20-10, 9-9) will take on Washington (17-14, 9-9) in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament Wednesday (1:06 p.m., Pac-12 Networks) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The winner will face top-seeded Arizona on Thursday.

Although the loss to Stanford dropped Utah to a No. 8 seed and cost the Utes an opportunity for a bye, Taylor made it clear that they would be ready to go when the tournament rolls around.

“We know that we can compete with everybody in the league,” he said. “We pretty much beat everybody in the league.”

The setback, it seems, hasn’t affected Utah’s confidence. Head coach Larry Krystkowiak expects the guys to maintain a mindset they’ve had all year long.

“When they roll into practice on Monday morning I completely trust that we’ll be in the right place and they’ll be ready to move on to the next chapter,” he said.

Krystkowiak explained that the next chapter is postseason play. It’s the fourth segment of the season, following six weeks of preparation, nonconference games and the Pac-12 portion of the schedule.

“I’m confident that we’re ready for the fourth chapter here and moving into Vegas and getting prepared,” Krystkowiak continued.

The Stanford loss, though, had a sting to it. Utah had a chance to win at the end but turned the ball over. Miscues were costly throughout, particularly in the first half. The Utes lost the ball 17 times and the Cardinal cashed in for 18 points off the mistakes. Rebounding was another costly area. Stanford won the battle of the boards 28-23 and pulled down 16 on the offensive end.

“We can talk about the last minute but there was obviously plenty of mistakes along the way,” Krystkowiak said.

Utah rallied from a 12-point deficit in the first half to take a lead late in the second. In the end, however, a positive outcome failed to materialize — putting an end to the Utes’ three-game winning streak.

“There’s no shortage on our team in terms of the guts,” Krystkowiak said. “Now we’ve got to start getting, maybe, a little bit more physical and be able to execute when it comes down the stretch like that.”

Until then, Krystkowiak acknowledged that the Utes are still smarting and disappointed.

“We need to let this absorb a little bit,” he said.

The reality, after all, is a 9-9 finish in Pac-12 play — a .500 record laced with close losses.

“I don’t like the proverbial, 'You’re better than you record' because I think you are what you are,” Krystkowiak said.

Now comes the next chapter.

EXTRA STUFF: Utah and Washington split two regular-season meetings. The Huskies prevailed 59-57 in Seattle on Jan. 8, while the Utes were victorious 78-69 in the Huntsman Center on Feb. 6. ... Stanford had eight steals on Saturday. ... The Utes were outscored 20-9 in second-chance points. ... Utah is headed for Las Vegas on Monday and will practice at Clark High School on Tuesday.

2014 PAC-12 TOURNAMENT

MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas

(All times Mountain)

Wednesday’s games

No. 8 Utah vs. No. 9 Washington, 1:06 p.m. (P12N)

No. 5 Colorado vs. No. 12 USC, 3:36 p.m. (P12N)

No. 7 Oregon vs. No. 10 Oregon State, 7:06 p.m. (P12N)

No. 6 Stanford vs. No. 11 Washington State, 9:36 p.m. (P12N)

Thursday’s games

No. 8/9 vs. No. 1 Arizona, 1:06 p.m. (P12N)

No. 5/No. 12 vs. No. 4 California, 3:36 p.m. (P12N)

No. 7/No. 10 vs. No. 2 UCLA, 7:06 p.m. (P12N)

No. 6/No. 11 vs. No. 3 Arizona State, 9:40 p.m. (FS1)

Friday’s games

Semifinal 1, 7:06 p.m. (P12N)

Semifinal 2, 9:40 p.m. (FS1)

Saturday’s game

Championship, 4:02 p.m. (FS1)

P12N: Pac-12 Networks FS1: Fox Sports 1

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