Utah guard Sedrick Barefield (2) drives around Washington State forward Marvin Cannon (5) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY — Opposing defenses have really focused in on Utah guard Sedrick Barefield. After averaging 27.6 points over games against Nevada, Arizona State and Arizona, the senior fell upon tougher times when the Utes faced Washington and Washington State. He averaged just 8.0 points against those teams.

Other drops between segments include field goal percentage (59.5 to 27.7 percent) and 3-point shooting percentage (53.3 to 16.6 percent).

“It’s an adjustment just because teams are trying to stop me from coming off of screens and getting open looks, or getting a switch and being able to dance on a big man,” Barefield said. “So it’s an adjustment. I’ve got to make quicker passes, get the ball out of my hands, and allow my teammates to play against the disadvantages when they’re double teaming me or when they are trapping me.”

Following Saturday’s 88-70 victory over Washington State, Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak noted that defenses are loading up on Barefield.

“It’s important that Sedrick moves the ball so that we get in a four-on-three situation,” he said. “The extra pass stuff has been good and our assists have been really good.”

Barefield’s assists have risen from an average of 3.3 over the games against the Wolfpack, Sun Devils and Wildcats to 6.0 in last week’s contests against the Washington schools.

PIVOTAL GAME(S): Utah’s 8-8 record could be greatly enhanced over the next three games. The Utes play three teams currently among the bottom-feeders in Pac-12 play.

After hosting Colorado (1-3) on Sunday, Utah heads to the Bay Area next week to take on Stanford (1-3) and California (0-4).

Freshman Riley Battin acknowledged this may be a pivotal point in the season.

“I think the whole season we’ve been getting better,” Battin said. “Our record might not show it because we’re .500 right now, but as long as we keep progressing and keep getting better I think this could be the time where we take that next step and really start taking a run towards the end of the season.”

Battin added that’s what the team is confident they’re going to do.

“We’re going to try our best in practice to get better and make that happen,” he said.

LOOKING AHEAD: Barefield agrees with Battin that Sunday’s game against Colorado is big for the Utes.

Comment on this story

“Obviously we want to protect home and then getting above .500 would be fantastic for us just moving forward into the future,” Barefield said. “Any game you win against a good team like Colorado or any Pac-12 conference game just gives you momentum.”

Utah’s remaining games include:

HOME (7): Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State, Arizona, Arizona State, USC, UCLA.

AWAY (7): Stanford, California, USC, UCLA, Washington, Washington State, Colorado.


Colorado (10-6, 1-3) at Utah (8-8, 2-2)

Huntsman Center

Sunday, 4 p.m.


Radio: ESPN 700AM