TUCSON, Ariz. — This is life when Andrew Bogut is on your team.

It was a timeout Saturday, and Bogut hadn't yet broken into double-figure scoring.

"We're going to keep putting you in position (to score)," said Utah coach Ray Giacoletti to Bogut.

It never hurts to keep the Franchise happy.

"I don't care," replied Bogut. "We're winning."

What kind of behavior is that for a first-round draft pick in waiting? Isn't this where he sulks and refuses to play? Gets nervous and forces shots? Dials Dr. Phil to air his grievances?

Later, after the Utes had moved on to the Sweet 16 by beating Oklahoma 67-58, Giacoletti was asked about his star center's NBA value, seeing how he's as big as a tree and as versatile as a blender.

"Bottom line on Andrew Bogut is he's a winner," said Giacoletti.

"And any NBA team he's with — I don't know what that price tag is on that value. But every single day he brings it. He can beat you in a variety of different ways. I've never been around anybody like him."

Yeah, well, neither has anyone else — at least not lately.

"Andrew Bogut," added Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson, "is a special player."

How special, exactly, is he? Special like a Father's Day necktie?

Or special like a visit from Halley's Comet?

Special like this: The man scored just 10 points and yet was killing the Sooners. Killing them. The passes. The blocks.

The rebounds. The "intimidations" and "diversions." Sampson noted a day earlier that often it's his "pass that leads to the assist" that does the damage.

Ka-ching!

Sports agents in both hemispheres are salivating.

One thing is obvious as Bogut moves toward an NBA career: His stock is rising. Again. Great players take their teams along with them.

That's what's happened with Bogut. The Utes are in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1998 — the year they played for the national championship.

Look out Nicole and Naomi. Australia has another red-hot export. Right now he's as prized as beach property.

Giacoletti has made it no secret he's going to enjoy the moment, for two reasons. First, making the Sweet 16 isn't an everyday occurrence. Second, he has said he's unlikely to ever again coach a player with such ability. There will be leapers, speedsters, shooters, workers and even seven-footers. But finding one who can beat teams by simply being in the neighborhood? Please.

This's what Bogut did to the Sooners on Saturday. He broke them by playing it cool. Clint Eastwood cool. Steve McQueen cool. He barely touched the ball in the opening minutes, so he waited.

"All things come to him who waits," said Woodrow Wilson. "Providing he knows what he is waiting for."

Bogut knows. He was waiting for someone else to get open.

Oh, and down the road, he's also waiting for a fat contract.

While the Sooners fussed over their 7-foot problem, other Utes did the scoring. Bogut simply found other things to do. At the break he had just two points. But he also had eight rebounds and a block. Yet the Utes led by nine.

As the game progressed, it became even more apparent that merely by hanging about, he can ruin an opponent. He passed behind his back to Justin Hawkins, who drew two free throws from the play. He tipped the ball back to a teammate after the Utes missed a free throw. He diligently avoided rushing his game.

In the second half he was even better. He dribbled — left-handed — to the free-throw line and passed inside for a slam. He hook-passed to Hawkins for a dunk. He swatted an Oklahoma lay-in. He cut away from the coverage to break Oklahoma's press.

He did everything but lay out his teammates' pajamas for the night and fetch them a drink.

In the end, it was painfully clear that the Sooners' plan to double- or triple-team Bogut wasn't nearly enough. Like roaming charges and gossip, he can hurt you even from afar.

"We did a decent job on Bogut," said a slightly forlorn Sampson, "but lots of times he just made great plays. I'll have to give him credit for that."

No need for that.

Credit is coming soon enough.


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