SALT LAKE CITY — After a disappointing weekend in California at the Wooden Legacy tournament, the Utah basketball team will try to get back on the winning track with a Saturday afternoon game (3 p.m.) against Tulsa at the Huntsman Center.
The Utes are coming off a pair of double-digit contests to Hawaii and Northwestern besides beating Grand Canyon, and head into Saturday’s game with a 3-3 record. Coach Larry Krystkowiak said he believes a lot of the Utes’ problems have been “mental” and says the coaches have been trying to simplify things for a Ute team that has nine new players.
Tulsa comes into the game at 5-2, following a 72-58 victory over UT Arlington Tuesday night. The only two losses were to No. 5-ranked Nevada and Southern Illinois. This will be Tulsa’s first true road game of the season after five home games and two games in a tournament in Las Vegas.
“They’re a big physical team, they’ve got a lot of scoring punch and can get to the free-throw line,” Kyrstkowiak said. “Coach (Frank) Haith does a good job, and we’re going to have our hands full.”
The Golden Hurricane have balanced scoring, led by junior forward Martins Igbanu (13.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg), senior swingman DaQuan Jeffries (13.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and senior guard Sterling Taplin (10.7 ppg, 5.8 apg).
Utah is expected to start Sedrick Barefield (13.5 ppg), Donnie Tillman (12.0 ppg) and freshman Timmy Allen (7.7 ppg) with either Novak Topalovic (7.0 ppg) or Jayce Johnson (4.7 ppg) in the middle and Parker Van Dyke (7.0 ppg) or freshman Both Gach (7.4 ppg) at a guard position.Comment on this story
GAME NOTES: After Saturday’s game, the Utes have a light schedule with games the following two Saturdays — against BYU at Vivint Arena on Dec. 8 and Kentucky in Lexington on Dec. 15. … This will mark the seventh meeting between Utah and Tulsa, with Utah leading the series 4-2. The two schools played together for a couple of years in the Western Athletic Conference in the late 1990s. The last meeting between the two schools came in 2008 in the CBI tournament that the Golden Hurricane would go on to win, as they defeated the Utes 69-60. … Tulsa was picked to finish ninth in the 12-team American Athletic Conference. … Barefield's 95.2 percent free-throw shooting ranks No. 6 in the nation. … Utah’s next home game is on Dec. 17 against Florida A&M. … Pac-12 play begins for Utah at Arizona State on Jan. 3.