It hasn't been the smoothest of sailing for the Utah mens basketball team of late, and head coach Larry Krystkowiak is doing all he can to remedy the situation and save the season.
But just under halfway into the year and the Utes find themselves at 4-5 overall and 1-4 in the Pac-12, currently riding a brutal four-game losing streak that's seen this team lose in multiple ways.
Making matters worse in the four-game losing streak is that Utah's last two losses, which came against what many believe to be two of the top teams in the Pac-12, came with the Utes leading by 10 at the half.
He's mixed up the starting lineup the past two games and changed rotations throughout the past couple of games, searching for a team identity that could work. While some results ave been positive and some negative, Krystkowiak is searching for consistency.
"I don’t know exactly what the good Lord has in mind for us with already a difficult year,” Krystkowiak said. “Maybe two-thirds of our basketball has been really good. A third hasn’t. We come out with four losses and it is going to test our stick-to-itiveness. I think in the cliff notes, or a nutshell of our team at this point, is there are not little things. Every little thing is a big thing.”
The Utes will have the opportunity to break that losing streak when they face Stanford on Thursday. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. from the Jon M. Huntsman Center and will air on ESPN2.
It will be another prime opportunity for Utah to pick up a big-time win and restore faith to the fan base, one that's quickly losing interest after the brutal second halves the past three games.
“Every team is going to watch the film and they are going to come out hard now, so we just have to improve, man,” Utah forward Timmy Allen said. “We just gotta keep the flow going on offense and continue to get good shots. … I am still bought in, man. I am going to keep grinding, get in my teammates’ ears. We just got to be tougher, play harder for 40 minutes.”
*Utah is searching for consistency and a full 40 minutes of play after blowing double-digit halftime leads the past two games
*Utah has been outscored by 47 points in the second half over the past three games
*Timmy Allen is Utah's leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 15.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game
*Alfonso Plummer is averaging 13.2 ppg, the only other Ute in double figures
*Mikael Jantunen is emerging as a secondary scoring threat for the Utes, averaging 11.3 ppg over his past four games
*Freshman Pelle Larsson, inserted into the starting lineup two games ago, is still finding his groove with the Utes. He had the best game of his career against Oregon last Saturday when finished with 15 points, five rebounds and five assists.
*The Cardinal will enter the Huntsman winners of seven of their last eight, vaulting them to second place in the Pac-12 standings.
*Only one of Stanford's previous seven wins has been by single digits
*Oscar da Silva is averaging team-highs of 19.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. But he's been on a tear the past three games by averaging 25 points, 11 rebounds and three assists per game.
*Freshman Ziaire Williams, who's averaging 11.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game, put up a triple-double against Washington two games ago when he finished with 12 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists and two blocks
*The Cardinal could get back get Deajon Davis back from injury. He's averaging 13.8 ppg. Davis has gone through warmups and it looks like he's going to give it a go...
*Daejon Davis is still in his sweats despite going through pregame warmups…
*Utah wins the tip and we are underway...
*Stanford looking sharp on offense early, executing really well. Utes with two quick fouls in the first 2:30
*Davis has checked into the game for Stanford, while Carlson has checked in to replace Battin
Utah 6 - Stanford 9
15:54 left 1H
Utah bench is into the game early and providing good energy but the Cardinal are executing well on offense to start
*Carlson making his presence felt early after altering two shots at the rim. And then Plummer passed up a contested there-pointer for a pretty dish to Jantunen for the quick bucket
*And right on point Plummer drops high-arcing three-pointer after two Stanford defenders flew right at him. It’s extremely impress how he can consistently change his launch angles to score
*Plummer has been extremely impressive in his three games coming off the bench. He’s got 5p, 1a, but two other would-be assists resulted in a foul. He’s making the right decisions and embracing being the leader of the second unit
Utah 15 - Stanford 11
11:57 left 1H
Very little flow to this game and there's already been 8 fouls called thus far. Still, Utes showing a lot of fight on both ends of the court, but really getting after it defensively
*Utah moving the ball really well on offense but at some point somebody has to pull the trigger. Multiple times are they passing up good looking shots...
*Officials are having issues at this point. 11 fouls called and we aren’t even at the halfway point of the 1H. They’ve missed multiple out of bounds calls for both teams. Just not a good showing by another Pac-12 officiating crew… shocking
*Jones just picked up his second foul with more than 10 minutes to play, so Krystkowiak pulled him and put Larsson back in. Looks as if Plummer is going to get extended run in this half with Jones' two fouls
Utah 19 - Stanford 18
6:56 left 1H
A slog of a 1H continues but the Utes are still looking good thus far. Would be a bigger deficit except for the fact that Stanford knocked down back-to-back contested three-pointers
*da Silva, Stanford's best player, has two fouls as well as Jantunen and Larsson have each drawn offensive charges on the big man
*Utes haven’t scored in 3+ minutes and have missed their last five shots, and eight of their last 10
*Allen breaks the scoring slump by going 3-for-4 from the charity stripe
Utah 23 - Stanford 23
3:45 left 1H
Allen leading the way with a game-high 9 points. Stanford is the more experienced team and those teams usually win the last 4 minutes of halves. Will be interesting to see how the Utes come out
*Utah using great defense to get out in transition on offense and it's allowing them to get easy buckets as Stanford struggles to match up
*Utes currently on a 7-0 run with Allen shooting two free throws... who knocks them both down
*Safe to say officials have been a little whistle happy today against Stanford. Cardinals called for 14 fouls, Utah just 8
Utah 34 - Stanford 25
Utah ends the half on an 11-2 run as Allen and Plummer had the offense going strong while the defense was flying around
*Reason for optimism heading into the 2H is Utah's defense. By far the best they've played in the last five games as they're active and talking. Come out with same energy and they could be in business
*Utes also winning the rebounding battle 20-15 as every player but Jones has grabbed one. Having guards get the rebound allows them to push the tempo and forces Stanford to match up in transition
*Allen has been great again, leading the way with 15 points and 4 rebounds. His composure at the offensive end has been awesome.
*While Stanford has been in foul trouble, a lot of that is due to the Utes making the extra pass with the Cardinal out of position
*Utah came back out onto the court with more than 6 minutes left in the half. I assume not much for Krystkowiak to say considering everyone is aware of their second half struggles
*Whatever Krystkowiak said or didn’t say at the half is making the difference. Utah is taking it to Stanford with a quick 8-3 run to begin the final 20 minutes
*Allen told the fan base to not lose faith in this team and he's proving why. He's got 17 points and 4 rebounds but is doing all of the little things needed to win. His energy and body language have been tremendous
Utah 44 - Stanford 31
15:40 left 2H
Utes come out on fire to begin the second half, keeping the energy and intensity up on both ends of the court
*Even with this lead, Stanford has the firepower to come back from the deficit. Utah must stay aggressive on both ends of the court and bring the physicality to the Cardinal
*Stanford in some serious foul trouble as both Williams and da Silva have three fouls apiece with 13:58 left in the game. Williams leads tonight with 14p while da Silva leads the team in overall scoring
*Plummer is fouled on a three-point attempt and knocks them all down, Utes lead up to 14 now...
*Not what you want to see, a miscommunication between Plummer and Larsson leads to turnover and the two exchange words, that’s eventually broken up by Martinez…
*Davis, Stanford’s other top player, also has three fouls…
Utah 49 - Stanford 35
11:44 left 2H
Utah will be shooting free throws the rest of the game as the Cardinal have been whistled for 21 fouls...
*Incredibly interesting stat — Stanford has more fouls (21) than rebounds (19) with 11:23 to play in the game…
*Leading by 13 with just under 10 minutes to play, I’m curious to see how this team closes it out. Do they go conservative and play to not lose, or do they keep attacking on both ends of the court to try and get the win
*Here comes Stanford as the Cardinal are on a 9-0 run over the past 1:07 to cut Utah's deficit to single digits
Utah 57 - Stanford 46
7:26 left 2H
Larsson with a huge bucket to end Stanford’s run, but this game still doesn’t feel like it’s close to being over…
*Play might go unnoticed but Carlson aught the ball deep on the block and just bullied his way past da Silva for the layup. da Silva was afraid to get that 4th foul, which was good recognition on Carlson’s part
*Plummer flurry close to putting this game on ice as he scored on back-to-back possessions… a setback jumper and then a three-pointe run transition. Utes lead at 15 with 5:32 to go
*Another interesting note, Stanford has been stuck on 21 fouls while the Utes have been whistled for the past SEVEN fouls… Utah now with 19 total
*Stanford refuses to go away, cutting the deficit back to 10. But Larsson is fouled on a three-point attempt… and he drains all of them...
*WOW Jantunen with a clear block on da Silva… didn’t touch any part of him. Yet the official, who was right there, whistled him for the foul. Video replay proved that the official got that one wrong… shocker I know
Utah 67 - Stanford 56
3:52 left 2H
Cardinal refusing to go away and now the officials are making this a but tougher. Utah ended 1H on an 11-2 run, curious to see how they handle the end of the game now
*Of the last 10 fouls that have been called in the game, the Utes have been whistled for 9 of them. Each team now with 22 total fouls... 14 of which for Utah have come in the second half
*Delaire has fouled out for Stanford, still leaves Davis and Williams with four each. Jones, Martinez and Larsson each have four fouls for the Utes
*Carlson gets a dunk for the Utes before Williams fouls out for Stanford on the other end
*Jones with a layup will just about do it. Utes up 15 and with the ball after Allen forced a turnover with 2 minutes left
Utah 79 - Stanford 65
Utes close out the game strong as four players score in double figures, none more than Allen’s game-high 22 points. Four game losing streak is over, with a very winnable game against Cal upcoming
Utah will now face Cal on Saturday night. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. MT on ESPNU.
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