SALT LAKE CITY — Sedrick Barefield has a hot hand. The Utah senior netted 50 points over games at Arizona State and Arizona. Before that, the guard scored a season-high 33 points against national power Nevada.
During the stretch, Barefield has made 28 of 47 shots from the field (59.5 percent), including 16 of 30 (53.3 percent) from 3-point range.
While on the Pac-12-opening road trip to Arizona, Barefield credited his teammates and also said that he was taking shots the defense was giving him and that he was comfortable taking.
There’s also something else in the mix.
“Confidence is a big part of playing the game, and he’s shooting the ball really well,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “It looks pure and clean, dealing with some pressure and some different things. He’s also doing a nice job distributing it when he doesn’t have opportunities.”
Krystkowiak added that they’ve all known what Sedrick can do and it’s neat to see such performances. However, they don’t expect him to play like that all the time.
“But he’s certainly capable,” said Krystkowiak, who reiterated that confidence is the key.
"I think we’ve all known what Sedrick can do, and it’s neat that that’s — again its early in the season — but that’s kind of as a senior, that’s the stuff — not that we expect him to have performances like this all the time, but he’s certainly capable.
“It’s like anything in life,” Krystkowiak said. “When you feel good about what you’re doing and how you’re going about it, it’s a big thing. We’ve got to keep it going.”
Utah wasn’t able to do that late in regulation in its 84-81 overtime loss at Arizona. Barefield fouled out with 1:44 to go and the Utes holding a 70-69 lead. He had a game-high 26 points and made five 3-pointers in 33 minutes of action.
“Fouling him out really changed the game down the stretch, and in overtime playing without him was a different task versus playing with him. He’s a tremendous player,” said Arizona coach Sean Miller, who noted that Barefield scored 49 points over two games against the Wildcats last season. “Watched Nevada play against him, they’re one of the best defensive teams I’ve seen, and he had 33 on them. He then went to Arizona State and went 24 on those guys, and tonight if he didn’t foul out, he would have crossed the 30 threshold once again. It wasn’t lack of effort, lack of discipline or anything on our end, he’s just a tremendous Pac-12 guard.”
Barefield acknowledged it was tough not being able to play in the final minutes.
“It was frustrating, more so because I feel like the physicality of a game like that should be allowed — especially down at a stretch throughout a game,” he said. “So I feel like a lot of the fouls I picked up were tick-tack, but at the same time I’ve got to be smart, got to try to stay in the game.”
While on the bench, Barefield said he was fully supportive of his teammates.
“It was fun to watch those guys in a moment like that,” he explained. “It wasn’t the outcome we wanted, but these guys have a lot of heart.”
Barefield’s surge followed a Christmas break that allowed everyone on the team to return home for four days. Krystkowiak said Barefield might have heard the same message from people in his corner (family, AAU program) back in California.
“The message is consistent to where we’re not all crazy but he’s actually got to start focusing on some things,” Krystkowiak said. “And I think he came back pretty refreshed from the Christmas break and put a lot of time in. It’s been great watching him put up some numbers.”
Even so, Krystkowiak said that things need to improve on the defensive end. Barefield can no longer have three reaching fouls as he did at Arizona. Krystkowiak said they could have been eliminated had Barefield been in the right spot initially.
Other adjustments came in the form of coming off the bench, although a tweaked ankle to Both Gach led to Barefield starting in last week’s Pac-12 openers. Barefield and sophomore Donnie Tillman had been relegated to reserve roles.
“Yeah, I did want to send a little bit of a message and this is not to implicate those guys in any way. But there’s a lot of elements that are involved in being a successful college basketball player that don’t involve basketball — you know, timeliness, prompt, being on top of your academics, being at meetings on time and different things like that,” Krystkowiak said. “Those are non-negotiables in our program and we had a couple of little blips, you know, right before the first time those two came off the bench and then they played well.”
Barefield currently leads the team with 16.1 points per game. Tillman is second with 11.6. The sophomore forward also averages 6.1 rebounds.
“We’re not getting caught up, too much, in who it is that starts games,” Krystkowiak said. “We just kind of stick true to the core, what we need to do on and off the court.”
Krystkowiak said being one of those guys that finishes games is far more important than starting. He pointed out strategic advantages to having productive players come off the bench. Generally, there’s also less foul trouble.
“You’re always a little bit safer, maybe, having those guys not get in early trouble,” Krystkowiak said.
Regardless of Barefield’s situation, the 6-foot-2 SMU transfer is getting it done. He’s scored 15 or more points in five straight games and has topped 20 in three consecutive outings.3 comments on this story
Whether Barefield starts or not isn’t an issue, even though he’s often asked about it. He made that clear after Utah’s 96-86 win at Arizona State.
“I’m about this team. I’ll do whatever it is to help this team, whether it’s wave a towel, whether it’s get somebody some water, or put some points on the board,” Barefield said. “Whatever it is, I love this team and I love being a Ute.”
Utes on the air
Washington (10-4, 1-0) at Utah (7-7, 1-1)
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