LAS VEGAS — It’s tournament time for the Utah Utes. After a morning practice in Salt Lake City, they headed to Las Vegas for the Pac-12 Tournament and a meeting with Oregon or Washington State in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
“We’re ready to go. This is something we planned for and prepared for the whole year,” senior guard Parker Van Dyke said of the goal to finish the regular season in the top four and earn a first-round bye.
Now, he added, it’s about doing something special to win this thing.
“It’s really exciting and it’s exciting for me as my last time there (to) hopefully do something I haven’t been able to do before,” Van Dyke said.
Freshman Timmy Allen also has high hopes for the Utes to win their first Pac-12 championship.
“I think we’ve prepared well up to this point and we’ve just kept up taking it game by game, process by process,” Allen said. “So we’re just plugging along. We’re going to see what we can do here in the tournament.”
Utah (17-13, 11-7) locked up the No. 3 seed with wins over USC and UCLA last week.
"I think we’re on a roll right now,” said sophomore Donnie Tillman. “Everyone’s in great spirits now.”
AWARDS APLENTY: Three Utes received accolades from the Pac-12 — Sedrick Barefield (first team all-conference), Timmy Allen (all-freshman team) and Tillman (Sixth Man of the Year).12 comments on this story
“It’s a real honor,” said Barefield, who then turned his remarks to the task at hand. “I’m just really excited to get out in Vegas and try to compete and get three wins.”
CENTER OF ATTENTION: Junior center Jayce Johnson, who missed the last two games with an ankle injury, has not practiced this week. As such, his availability for the tournament is uncertain.
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said it’ll depend on how treatments go and how Johnson feels.
“We’ll get there and sort it out,” Krystkowiak said.