The Runnin’ Utes are playing host to a couple of ranked Los Angeles schools this week. No. 25 USC is visiting Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. and No. 4 UCLA is coming to the Huntsman Center on Saturday, Jan. 14 at 4 p.m.
Although it may be a tall task to face these teams with less than 24 hours to prepare for the UCLA game on Saturday, head coach Larry Krystkowiak is making sure that the Utes are focusing on themselves and what they need to do to come out with a couple of wins.
“It’s probably been a while since we’ve had two opponents that are in the top 25 [in one weekend], but it’s pretty rare to have teams of that caliber coming in,” Krystkowiak said.
Overall, Krystkowiak does not think USC is too different from last season, so he will be expecting more or less the same from the Trojans on Thursday night. Senior Lorenzo Bonam doesn’t care about any numbers associated with either USC or UCLA, because his job will always be to help his team get a win.
“It’s just another team with a number beside the name,” Bonam said. “It’s another test, but they came from high school just like us. They may be more highly recruited, like five stars vs. us being maybe like two or three stars, but we’re going to see if they have more heart.”
Coming through in the clutch
Although the Utes missed a couple of front ends of 1-and-1s against ASU late in the game this past Saturday, Krystkowiak thinks the team did not shy away from getting to the line, and handled the pressure fairly well.
The Sun Devils were fighting to get within striking distance of the Utes and even made it a two point game because of those misses. When ASU was forced to continue to foul, Utah was able to widen the margin a bit more with some free throws to make it a multiple possession game.
Something Krystkowiak would like his team to improve on is turnovers. Against Arizona the team had just eight turnovers. Against ASU the Utes turned the ball over 15 times.
“We haven’t been in a press for a long time, so that little lapse at the end [against ASU], we hadn’t had a whole lot of time to prepare for that in practice,” Krystkowiak said. “We’re going to throw it into practice this week where it gets a little frenzy.”
Collette making an impact
Although he has only been competing for the Utes since late December, junior David Collette has been one of the more consistent players for the Utes. Through the seven games he has scored double digits in each outing.
The Utah State transfer has been shooting 66.2 percent from the floor and Krystkowiak likes what he has been bringing to the team, not only in terms of production but also in leadership. Collette also has a step up on former Utah big man Jakob Poeltl.
“He’s got two things going for him,” Krystkowiak said. “He’s strong, and he’s got a lot of experience playing at a high level. He understands the game and he plays at the right pace. He seems to be on balance and it was an issue with Jakob [Poeltl], teaching him how to slow down.”