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Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Utah guard Sedrick Barefield pushes the ball against Washington State at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018.
Sedrick is a big, strong, quick guard. There’s an efficiency about him if he’ll just get to business and attack when a guy is out of position. —Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak, on Sedrick Barefield

BOULDER, Colo. — Considering how Sedrick Barefield is shooting the ball these days, it’s hard to imagine that the Utah guard suffered through a 1-for-19 stretch not so long ago.

Last week at Arizona State and Arizona, Barefield made 13 of 19 shots from the field. He was 6 of 8 from 3-point range and 11 of 12 at the free throw line. Barefield wound up scoring a team-high 17 and 26 points, respectively, in the games against the Sun Devils and Wildcats.

Barefield’s hot hand, though, isn’t a case of a shooter just shooting his way through a slump.

So says Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak.

“I don’t think you just keep shooting. I think you try to find good shots. There’s a lot of correlation I think, “ he said. “Sedrick is a big, strong, quick guard. There’s an efficiency about him if he’ll just get to business and attack when a guy is out of position.”

Krystkowiak explained that Barefield can excel with clean, efficient moves. It’s led to some joking from the coach.

“A lot of times it has a little degree of difficulty to it like you would in Olympic diving, where you want to add a few twists and spins,” Krystkowiak said. “It’s far more important to be functional and quick (and) decisive than it is a lot of the extra stuff."

Barefield’s new approach is paying off as Utah upset Arizona State in overtime (80-77) and nearly knocked off Arizona (74-73). The Utes (13-8, 5-5) are at Colorado (12-10, 4-6) on Friday (7 p.m., FS1).

While preparing for the game, Krystkowiak expressed optimism about Barefield’s continued contributions.

“He sees these gaps now in space and we’ve talked to him about direct-line drives. We can show him all kinds of film. When he does that he’s pretty effective and the mid-range game is effective for him,” Krystkowiak said. “So I think he’s just gotten a little bit wiser, to picking and choosing his points.”

Krystkowiak added that Barefield has made improvement the past few weeks in terms of finding that he doesn’t need to make things complicated. He’s hopeful that Barefield will continue to keep it simple.

Since missing all five shots he took and scoring just two points in a win over Washington on Jan. 18, Barefield has been coming off the bench. The new role has suited him well. In three games since making the switch, Barefield has averaged 19 points.

Teammate David Collette wasn’t sure how Barefield would feel about the move initially.

“I kind of talked with him a little bit about it and he’s fully accepted that. He loves being that spark of energy off the bench,” Collette said. “I really think that’s been huge for him, just coming in and providing some energy and effort off the bench where we need it — and I think that’s been a big spark for him.”

It’ll come in handy this weekend when the Utes face Colorado at the Coors Event Center.

Although the Buffaloes have lost three straight games — falling to Washington, and then at Arizona and Arizona State — they do have some noteworthy Pac-12 victories. Colorado surprised both Arizona schools in early January and knocked off UCLA at Pauley Pavilion the next week.

Utah (13-8, 5-5) at Colorado (12-10, 4-6)

Coors Event Center, Boulder

Friday, 7 p.m.


Radio: ESPN 700AM

“I think Tad (Boyle) has done a tremendous job. There’s an awful lot of newcomers on their squad,” said Krystkowiak, who noted that the Buffs have senior guard George King back in the fold and a “terrific point guard” in freshman McKinley Wright. “They’re a physical team. They rebound. They get up and down the floor.”

Colorado is also playing a lot more zone than in the past. It’s something that Krystkowiak said Boyle has always kind of been allergic to doing.

“So they’ve found some balance with their defense, which throws a wrench into it in terms of prepping for them,” Krystkowiak continued.

Even so, he acknowledged there are not a lot of secrets within the programs as Pac-12 travel partners. They know what each other is trying to do. Besides, it’s supposed to be a rivalry game.

“Friday night at the fights in Boulder,” Krystkowiak joked.

EXTRA STUFF: Utah returns home to host Stanford and California next week . . . King and McKinley both average 14.3 points per game for Colorado . . . The Buffaloes lead the all-time series 26-21. However, the Utes have won the last seven games . . . Utah has four scorers in double-figures — Justin Bibbins (14 ppg), Collette (12.7 ppg), Barefield (11.7 ppg) and Tyler Rawson (11.1 ppg).

Twitter: @DirkFacer