I’m just thrilled that the summer didn’t begin and know that I wasn’t a part of it. I didn’t want the season to end. —Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak
SALT LAKE CITY — Looking back, Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak acknowledged that his ejection in Wednesday’s 69-59 win over UC Davis wasn’t ideal.
“It wasn’t my brightest moment,” Krystkowiak said. “But I’m moving on.”
The Utes certainly did. They rallied from the second-quarter ouster of Krystkowiak and what became a double-digit deficit to reach the next round of the National Invitational Tournament.
Krystkowiak told reporters Saturday that he has forgotten all about his outburst in the tourney opener. His focus is on what’s ahead.
“I’m just thrilled that the summer didn’t begin and know that I wasn’t a part of it. I didn’t want the season to end,” he said. “I’m really proud of our guys for battling back. Those are my issues with some referees, and I’ll leave it at that. I just want to move forward to LSU.”
The Utes (20-11) take on the Tigers (18-14) Monday night in the Huntsman Center.
THE BIG DANCE: Utah freshman Donnie Tillman, like many, many others, had his bracket busted by UMBC’s upset of Virginia. The madness of the NCAA Tournament has him determined to be part of it next year.
Until then, “The NIT is just as special to me,” Tillman said. “I’m going to play hard like every game.”
PAC-12 WOES: Krystkowiak noted that “it’s a bummer” that the Pac-12 didn’t win a game in the NCAA Tournament. Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA came up short in their openers.
“Seeing us go 0-3 was a bit disheartening, but that’s March madness,” said Utah senior Tyler Rawson, who expressed hope that things would be better next year and that the conference would find continued success in the ongoing NIT.
Krystkowiak had similar thoughts, particularly about the latter.
“We still have some Pac-12 teams alive in the NIT,” he said. “So we’re going to keep scratching and clawing and focus, as you know, on stuff that we can control.“
The Utes are joined by Stanford, USC and Washington in the round of 16 in the NIT.
NIT second round
LSU (18-14) at Utah (20-11)
Monday, 7 p.m.
Radio: ESPN 700AM