4th seed Georgetown and No. 5 Utah prep to meet in Portland
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - It's time for the Utah Utes to act like they belong - and aren't just stopping by - at the NCAA Tournament.
That's coach Larry Krystkowiak's mandate for the fifth-seeded Utes, who survived their tournament opener against Stephen F. Austin to face No. 4 seed Georgetown on Saturday in Portland, Oregon.
Krystkowiak told the team after their first tournament appearance since 2009 - and first win since 2005 - that it was just a step in the process for a Utah program on an upswing.
''This isn't about a goal of reaching any point,'' he said. ''I mentioned it to our fellas, it's about winning the first play of the game, then trying to win the second play. Really, you reflect back on whatever success you had at the end of the season. But it's very much a `survival of the fittest' mentality that I'm trying to instill in our guys. So we cannot be complacent or satisfied with what we've done up to this point.''
Since Krystkowiak arrived as Utah's head coach four years ago, the Utes have improved every season, going from six wins to 21 last year. The team has won 25 so far this season.
The last, a 57-50 victory Thursday over the Lumberjacks, was a little closer than Krystkowiak would have liked, but he said the Utes will be stronger for it.
''The experience of the tournament, first and foremost, is probably the key regardless of the outcome of the game,'' he said.
In a way, Georgetown (22-10) is dealing with a similar situation: The Hoyas are out to prove that their struggles in recent years are over. They took the first step Thursday with an 84-74 victory over Eastern Washington.
''You keep doing your business, you keep doing what you're supposed to do, eventually people will be quiet,'' coach John Thompson III said in response to a question about whether the tournament win would silence some of the Hoyas' critics. ''To tell you the truth, we're Georgetown. Even if we do so, people may not be quiet. We're used to that.''
Georgetown last made it out of the round of 32 in 2007, when it advanced to the Final Four. Playing in the challenging Big East, the team settled for an NIT invitation last year after getting bounced as a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament by No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast in 2013.
Overall, Georgetown is making its 30th appearance in the tournament. The team won the national championship in 1984.
A LOOK BACK: During the 1990s and into the 2000s, the Utes were a perennial NCAA Tournament participant under coach Rick Majerus, advancing in 11 of his 14 seasons at the helm. In 1998, Utah got past defending national champion Arizona and landed in the title game, but fell to Kentucky 78-69.
CONTROVERSY: A day later, the NCAA head of officiating suggested that perhaps a call was missed in the game between Eastern Washington and Georgetown. Hoya guard Jabril Trawick chest bumped the Eagles' Tyler Harvey, knocking him to the ground after a travel. The play was reviewed but officials decided not to charge Trawick with a technical or a flagrant. In an interview with CBS Sports, NCAA national coordinator of men's basketball officiating John Adams said: ''That's what we call a dead ball contact technical foul. And I would tell you that's a play we should have gotten.''
BIG BRO: Senior guard Delon Wright, who leads the Utes with an average of 14.9 points per game, is the younger brother of Portland Trail Blazer Dorell Wright, who plays home games at the Moda Center. But don't expect to see Dorell at any games. After the Utes won on Thursday - while he was on a road trip with the Blazers - Dorell vowed he wouldn't attend any further Utah games this season, no matter how far they might go. Why? He's superstitious.
MORE SUPERSTITION: Krystkowiak has a thing for the number seven, dating back to when he was a kid. ''We always leave for our bus, like we left today at 3:13, it added up to seven,'' he said. ''When I looked up (against Eastern Washington), we had a little bit of a lead with 7:07. I blasted that into our huddle. I just think it's something to believe in.''
BACK TO THE PNW: Georgetown's 6-foot-10, 350-pound center Joshua Smith is from Kent, Washington, only a couple of hours by car from Portland. ''When I found out we were being stationed in Portland, the first person to call me was my mom,'' he said. Smith said he had more than 40 people from Kent cheering for him in the opening game.