It’s not like a big scouting report like you’re playing Colorado or Stanford or Cal, who you haven’t played yet. We’ve got to refresh some things we’ve done a few weeks back. It’s not necessarily an advantage for either team. —Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak
TEMPE, Ariz. — The Utah men's basketball team still hasn’t played three Pac-12 opponents but will battle a pair of teams over the next few days it has already played, beginning with Arizona State Thursday night.
The Utes take on the No. 21-ranked Sun Devils at 7:30 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena and then move down the road to Tucson to play No. 11 Arizona Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. at the McKale Center.
It was just three weeks ago the two Arizona schools came to Salt Lake and had all they could handle from the Utes, who were tied with the Wildcats with under four minutes left before losing 94-82 and lost in the final seconds to ASU 80-77. The Utes should be quite familiar with both teams.
“It’s not like a big scouting report like you’re playing Colorado or Stanford or Cal, who you haven’t played yet,” said Krystkowiak. “We’ve got to refresh some things we’ve done a few weeks back. It’s not necessarily an advantage for either team.”
One positive for the Utes this go-around is that the team is as healthy as it’s been all season, according to Krystkowiak.
“We had injuries and guys were beat up,” he said. “We’ve got a couple of more horses in our stable that we didn’t have before.”
Two of those players are Donnie Tillman, who didn’t play against Arizona State after missing several games with a foot injury, and Chris Seeley, who played only two minutes after missing the previous 11 games after gallbladder surgery.
Tillman has started the last three games and averaged 9.7 points, while Seeley has been a key contributor off the bench.
Krystkowiak also tweaked his starting lineup in the last game, putting junior Parker Van Dyke in as a starter and bringing previous starter Sedrick Barefield off the bench. It helped Barefield, who scored 14 points after getting just six in his previous three games, but Krystkowiak wouldn’t say if he’ll keep the same lineup this weekend.
“I don’t know, we’re pretty fluid and things are rolling,” he said. “Some of our decisions might have a lot more to do with matchups and who we’re going to play.”
Justin Bibbins, who leads the team in scoring at 13.6 ppg, has come on strong during league play and had a big game against Arizona State earlier this month when he finished with 22 points, six assists and two steals. His possible game-winning 3-pointer with the Utes down two points with six seconds left went halfway down the basket before rimming out.
"It looked like it was already in and then it just came out. It's just the way it goes," Bibbins said of the final shot.
It’s a shot Krystkowiak still can’t get over.
“I’ve never seen a ball ... when I slowed it down on replay, I actually froze it with the ball inside of the rim. There wasn’t an inch of the ball that was outside of the rim and a split second later it came back out.”
UTE NOTES: Utah has won two straight at Wells Fargo Arena, including an 88-82 victory last year. ... The Utes are 32-21 all-time against the Sun Devils and 7-4 since joining the Pac-12. ... The Sun Devils (15-4, 3-4) are led by Trae Holder at 19.0 ppg, followed by Shannon Evans (16.7 ppg), Kodi Justice (13.5 ppg) and Romello White (12.1 ppg). ... The Utes have just one game next week — Friday against Colorado at 7 p.m., before returning home to play Stanford and Cal the following week.