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Ravell Call, Deseret News
Utah forward Donnie Tillman defends Utah State forward Quinn Taylor at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017.
I think we’re all doing well together. We’ve had some tough losses but the guys have been really good about it. —Utah forward David Collette

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak turned to history when asked about the status of freshman Donnie Tillman, who has played in just one game since Dec. 9.

“Is that an injury question?” Krystkowiak responded at his weekly press conference on Tuesday.

Then came some non-basketball-related trivia.

“You know what happened on this date in 1493?" Krystkowiak said. "Take a guess what happened on this date.”

The coach explained that Christopher Columbus claimed to have seen three mermaids in the water while sailing and wrote all about it. Columbus noted that the creatures weren’t nearly as attractive as all the artwork he had seen of mermaids.

Krystkowiak went on to say that experts have determined that what Columbus saw that day were manatees, not mermaids.

“So, sometimes things you see is not reality. How about that?” Krystkowiak continued. “So, to your question, did I get sidetracked? What was your question? I just wanted to break out a little history for you. Can you imagine what Columbus thought when he saw those three ugly manatee in the water and claimed that they were mermaids?”

When pressed further about Tillman, Krystkowiak mentioned that it was future Ute Timmy Allen’s birthday.

And that’s that.

NEXT UP: After getting swept at home by the Arizona schools, Utah now heads to Los Angeles to face UCLA. The Bruins currently sit alone atop the Pac-12 standings with a 3-1 record.

Although not an ideal scenario, Krystkowiak said the Utes don’t wish for anything different as they prepare to face UCLA.

“You better be careful what you wish for in this business,” he added. “We are just going to try to get ready to find a few chinks in their armor and clean up what we need to clean up and go in there and try to be competitive. That’s all we can focus on.”

GOING GOOD: All things considered, senior forward David Collette said he’s having fun this season and the team has been great. The Utes are 10-5 overall and 2-2 in Pac-12 play.

“I think we’re all doing well together. We’ve had some tough losses but the guys have been really good about it,” Collette said. “Everyone’s been positive and we’ve all been lifting each other up.”

EXTRA STUFF: Utah is sixth in the nation in free throw percentage (.785) ... UCLA leads the Pac-12 with 40.8 rebounds per game ... Collette tops Utah in scoring with 13.8 point per game. Justin Bibbins is second with 13.7.

• • •

Utah (10-5, 2-2)

at UCLA (12-4, 3-1)

Pauley Pavilion — Westwood, Calif.

Thursday, 9 p.m. (MT)


Radio: ESPN 700AM

Twitter: @DirkFacer