They’ve got some good players. We need to be ready to guard. —Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak
CORVALLIS, Ore. — Gill Coliseum has kind of been a house of horrors for the Utah Utes. They haven’t fared well in games at Oregon State, losing four of five here since joining the Pac-12 in 2011-12.
The past two have been especially painful. In 2015-16, Utah dropped a 71-69 decision when Stephen Thompson Jr. was fouled by Brandon Taylor on a desperation shot from half-court with 0.1 second remaining. He hit all three free throws to give the Beavers the victory.
Last season, Thompson erupted for 31 points and made a game-winning layup as Oregon State edged the Utes 68-67. It wound up being the Beavers’ lone win in conference play.
“There’s lessons in every season, and you hope they’re not as costly as that,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak, who added that the Utes grew from the difficult losses.
The Utes (9-3, 1-0) are back at Oregon State Sunday (4 p.m., P12N). Coach Larry Krystkowiak insists they’re aren’t thinking about the past, just the next 40 minutes of basketball.
“They’ve got some good players,” he said. “We need to be ready to guard.”
Krystkowiak then joked that perhaps the Utes may have a little luck coming back since Oregon State owes them a couple now.
Even so, Krystkowiak said there’s no easy place to get a Pac-12 win on the road — period.
“I don’t think it’s anything specific to Gill Coliseum,” he explained. “I think it’s you get some pretty good teams that are in the Pac-12 that do a good job of protecting their home court.”
Utah, though, is coming off a 66-56 win at Oregon on Friday. It was the Utes’ first victory in Eugene since 1951.
Krystkowiak didn’t think too much of snapping the skid. He added that the current team didn’t have too much to do with the streak. His preference is to stay in the moment.
And for Utah, that’s a good thing. The Utes did some impressive things in the victory over the Ducks. They had just three turnovers (two were illegal screens) in their Pac-12 opener.
Oregon led 31-23 at halftime, but Utah had shot just 29 percent (9 of 31) from the field.
“We knew shots were going to fall,” said guard Justin Bibbins, who scored 11 of his game-high 19 points in the second half. “So we just tried to focus on defense and our offense opened up.”
The Utes scored on their first four possessions after the break to climb back into contention. They wound up holding Oregon to 38.1 percent (8 of 21) shooting in the second half. Scoring leader Payton Pritchard was held to seven points. He was 2 of 10 from the field and missed all five of his 3-point attempts.
It all added up to a successful comeback from a deficit as large as 13 points in the opening half.
“We grew off of the three losses we had this season,” said Bibbins, who praised the team for maintaining confidence throughout the game. “It’s a great group and I’m happy we kept fighting.”
Bibbins, who hit five 3-pointers by game’s end, was aided in the effort by several others. Sedrick Barefield finished with 16 points, while David Collettte added 11. Tyler Rawson stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, two blocks and one steal.
In the end, though, it came down to one variable.
“Making shots is what helped us in the second half,” Rawson said.
“As crazy as it sounds we made the shots,” he said. “We probably took the same shots in the first half.”
That’s why, in a nutshell, there wasn’t a lot of alterations to the game plan during the intermission.
“It was probably the halftime that I spoke least in terms of adjustments. We had one little thing that we needed to tweak,” Krystkowiak said. “But we know, as I told our team postgame, you’re never as good as you think you are and you’re never as bad as you think you are — but we do know what makes us good.
“We know what we need to do and it's in front of us and its tangible and our guys did it,” he continued. “We rebounded, we guarded, thank goodness we hit open shots, and we didn’t turn the ball over. That’s a pretty good formula to keep you in some games.”
It certainly paid off at Matthew Knight Arena. Utah snapped Oregon’s 25-game winning streak at home against Pac-12 opponents. The Utes also put an end to a nine-game skid against the Ducks.
Utah (9-3, 1-0) at Oregon State (9-4, 1-0)
Gill Coliseum, Corvallis
Sunday, 4 p.m.
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Radio: ESPN 700AM
Email: [email protected]