We’ve got a lot of skilled people and any one can step up at any time and have a big game and that’s what J.O. did today. —Utah center Jason Washburn
SALT LAKE CITY — Jeremy Olsen didn’t even play a minute in 10 of Utah’s first 14 games this year.
However, the redshirt freshman from Georgia has begun to see some action in the past month and he came up with the biggest outing of his Ute career Saturday afternoon in helping the Utes to their upset win over Colorado.
Olsen only played 14 minutes, but he produced a career-high 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting and also grabbed three rebounds.
“Jeremy Olsen was big for us in the post,’’ said Ute coach Larry Krystkowiak.
For Olsen, who was recruited by coach Jim Boylen before going on an LDS mission to England, it was exciting to play such a big part in a Ute victory.
“I went in there and played hard and was able to find some gaps in the defense,’’ he said. “I got the ball on the block and the coaches called some plays for me and I was able to finish.’’
With starting forward Jordan Loveridge out with an injury, the Utes started Renan Lenz at the big forward spot, but when he got in early foul trouble, Olsen replaced him. He scored eight of the 10 Ute points in a stretch where the Utes overcame an early Colorado lead.
“I knew I had to be ready with Loveridge out and especially after Renan got in foul trouble early,’’ he said. "Our gameplan coming into the game was to pound it inside on them and that’s exactly what we did.’’
So why didn’t Olsen play in the last 10 and a half minutes of the game when the Utes watched a 22-point lead melt to one and they didn’t score a single field goal, a lot of fans wanted to know?
“You look at the numbers and it would have made a lot of sense,’’ said Krystkowiak. “It was more of a defensive midset for us going down the stretch. Jeremy does a lot of things, but it’s pretty hard for him to guard perimeter players on the bounce. So that’s what we were thinking, getting a more veteran group out there and getting guys who could guard.’’
Olsen said he wasn’t upset about sitting on the bench during the Utes’ late meltdown.
“I support what coach K says,'' he said. "I played as hard as I could when I was in there. It wasn’t the fact that I wasn’t in there that they started coming back. We were being complacent and stopped attacking — that was the main reason they got back in the game.’’
One of Olsen’s biggest fans is Jason Washburn, who plays against him in practice every day
“This kid’s going to be something to look out for,’’ he said. “He has a lot of skills when he gets in the paint. I’m saying that (in front of the media) because I definitely don’t admit it to him in private. We’ve got a lot of skilled people and any one can step up at any time and have a big game and that’s what J.O. did today.’’