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Ravell Call, Deseret News
Utah Utes head coach Larry Krystkowiak yells to his team near the end of the game against the Oregon Ducks during the Pac-12 basketball tournament in Las Vegas on Thursday, March 8, 2018.
I’ll say it going to my grave — nobody wants to watch college basketball where guys sit on the bench in foul trouble. —Larry Krystkowiak

LAS VEGAS — Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak wanted to make sure he didn’t downplay Oregon’s 68-66 victory in Thursday night’s quarterfinals, saying, “I give Oregon a lot of credit because they did what they needed to do to beat us.”

However, the fact that his two big men both fouled out after being in foul trouble much of the night gave the Ute coach another opportunity to rant about college basketball’s foul-out rule, something he’s done on several occasions in the past.

After saying “you can’t defend the free-throw line” and that Oregon shooting 17 free throws was “probably the biggest difference in the game,” Krystkowiak went off on a five-minute tirade about fouls.

“I’ll say it going to my grave — nobody wants to watch college basketball where guys sit on the bench in foul trouble,” he said. “What other sport is there on the planet where you penalize guys for fouling. There’s nothing — soccer, baseball ... the NCAA championship game last year, you look at how many fouls are called — how much fun is that?”

Krystkowiak also claimed that officials call more fouls later in the season around tournament time, making more players sit on the bench.

“I can’t figure out the rules, because there’s a lot more fouls being called at the end of the season for some reason than were called at the beginning of the season,” he said. “So I’m confused about what’s happening.”

Krystkowiak barely came up for air before continuing.

Overall picture, we’re making a big mistake with five fouls and having players sit on the bench. You talk about judgement calls, a charge-block call and a ticky-tack rebound call in the first half and you’ve got one of your best players with two fouls and you can’t play him. What other sport is there that would exist this way? I’ve been saying it all along. I don’t want to see Oregon’s best player sitting on the bench either. I want to see our best players playing against each other.”

When asked about starting a petition to the NCAA about a rule change, Krystkowiak said he already has complained.

“They just laugh at me and say ‘we tried that back in the Big East 30 years ago.’ Well, that’s back when you were playing rugby. That was before there were rule changes. It’s a shame. I was sick last year at the national championship game watching everybody foul out. Is that what we want? The topic is a sensitive one to me.”

NEVER A DOUBT: The big question before Thursday night’s quarterfinal game between Utah and Oregon was whether David Collette would play or not.

Collette had played only seven minutes in the regular-season finale against Colorado last week before leaving the game with an injured ankle. There was no indication whether he’d play or not until he showed up dressed and was announced in the starting lineup.

The senior from Murray said there was never a doubt. When asked if he knew when he knew he’d be playing he said, “the minute it happened.” When told the coaches didn’t know whether he’d play or not, Collette said, “they were just messing with you.”

Collette’s right ankle was quite swollen and covered in ice in the locker room after the game and Krystkowiak was amazed Collette even played, let alone make 8 of 9 shots for 16 points, before fouling out in the final minute.

“Did you see his ankle? There aren’t too many people that are going to be playing on that,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. We just needed him on the floor more than 17 or 18 minutes.”

When asked how his ankle felt after the game, Collette said, “It hurts. But I’m not going to sit out my last year in the tournament. You’ve got to do what you got to do.”

GAME NOTES: For the record, both teams were whistled for 20 fouls in Thursday’s contest with the Ducks going 19 for 25 from the free-throw line and Utah 14 of 19 ... Utah shot 51.2 percent from the field compared to 37.7 percent for Oregon ... The Ducks won the rebound battle 34-25 and had 12 offensive boards to just four for Utah.