As we get into these games with good competition the margin for error is a lot thinner and so we’ve really got to be precise and get ourselves dialed in. —Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak
SALT LAKE CITY — Lopsided wins over Prairie View A&M (83-62) and Mississippi Valley State (91-51) may not tell the story of where the Utah Utes are after two games.
Thursday’s home game against Missouri (6 p.m., P12N) likely will, especially if highly touted freshman Michael Porter Jr. plays. The 6-foot-10 forward, who could be the No. 1 overall pick in the next NBA draft, headlines the roster for the Tigers and former California coach Cuonzo Martin.
“It’s going to be an unbelievable environment and game against a top team,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said at his weekly press conference.
Porter, though, is listed as “day to day” with a leg injury that has limited him to less than two minutes of action this season.
As such, Krystkowiak and his staff don’t have much film to watch on Porter. Even so, they still know a lot about him.
Krystkowiak noted that Porter has the prototypical NBA-looking body and is able to play multiple positions defensively. He also does several other things well like shooting the ball. Krystkowiak then added a few more attributes, like the ability to post, guard, run and catch.
“He does what everybody should do at that next level,” Krystkowiak continued. “I think he’s got his head on his shoulders.”
Whether Porter is on the floor or not, Krystkowiak noted that the Tigers have a lot of other pieces.
Missouri opened the season with wins over Iowa State (77-59) and Wagner (99-55).
Guard Kassius Robertson, a graduate transfer from Canisius, is leading the Tigers with 17 points per game. Other standouts include junior forward Kevin Puryear (14.5 ppg) and senior forward Jordan Barnett (14 ppg).
“Based on the two games I’ve watched, those guys play hard and they play a lot of defense,” Krystkowiak said of the Tigers. “They don’t beat themselves. You are going to have to earn baskets and be really sharp execution-wise.”
Krystkowiak added that Missouri has tremendous length and might be one of the bigger teams around.
“It’s a tough-nosed, tough-minded outfit,” he said.
Missouri (2-0) at Utah (2-0)
Thursday, 6 p.m.
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Radio: ESPN 700AM
Utah, meanwhile, is working to reduce turnovers. The Utes gave the ball away 35 times over the first two games.
“As we get into these games with good competition the margin for error is a lot thinner and so we’ve really got to be precise and get ourselves dialed in,” Krystkowiak said.
Junior guard Sedrick Barefield, who scored 22 points in the opener against Prairie View but was sidelined for the second game, is one of four Utes scoring in double-figures — Tyler Rawson (13 ppg), David Collette (12.5 ppg) and Gabe Bealer (11.5 ppg) are the others.
Utah heads to Las Vegas next week for games at T-Mobile Arena against Mississippi on Monday and either Rice or UNLV on Wednesday.