LOS ANGELES — Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak put things in perspective after his team’s 80-66 loss at UCLA Saturday afternoon.
“We can count them on one hand right now,” he said. “It’s winding down.”
Beginning with Wednesday’s game against Arizona in the Huntsman Center, the Utes close things out with three straight at home — the Wildcats, Arizona State and Colorado — and then road dates at California and Stanford.
At 17-8 overall and 6-7 in Pac-12 play, Krystkowiak acknowledged that the team controls some of its own destiny in terms of postseason possibilities.
“If we start playing good ball and getting some wins it can help us out,” he said.
Even so, Krystkowiak insists no one is looking that far ahead.
“The next one is the most important one,” he said of facing the Wildcats. “We can only focus on one at a time.”
As for the loss at UCLA, Krytskowiak isn’t going to dwell on it. Same goes for Thursday’s 79-71 win at USC, a victory that snapped an 11-game skid on the road.
“The last one, we’ve got to learn from it. But if we’re thinking about two games ago — the USC game — I don’t know how productive that is,” Krystkowiak said. “It is nice that we don’t have to talk about being winless on the road. Beyond that, it’s really just trying to fix what’s broke right now as we move into the final few weeks of the season.”
Junior guard Delon Wright summarized Utah’s shortcomings at UCLA, especially in the second half.
“We didn’t come out and play as aggressively as we needed to play,” he said.
Leading 33-31 at halftime, the Bruins returned from the break with 12 straight points to take control of the game. The Utes never got any closer than 10 the rest of the way as they settled for a split in Los Angeles.
“We’re not satisfied going 1-1 on this road trip,” said sophomore forward Jordan Loveridge. “We thought we could beat this team.”
The Bruins (20-5, 9-3), though, were determined to make a statement of their own — especially after dropping a 74-69 decision to the Utes in Salt Lake City on Jan. 18.
“You really have to stay focused,” said UCLA guard Jordan Adams, who finished with a game-high 24 points. “Every team in the Pac-12 can beat each other.”
Ultimately, this one was decided after the Bruins took some motivating counsel from head coach Steve Alford to heart.
“Coach told us that the famous teams of the Lakers and the Bulls always made a statement in the third quarter,” said UCLA guard Kyle Anderson. “We came out in the second half and the first four minutes and made stops and made some plays.”