The Runnin’ Utes are hosting their final pair of Pac-12 games this weekend as Cal is coming to the Huntsman Center on Thursday night for a 9 p.m. tipoff.
Following the Cal game, the University of Utah men’s basketball team will be facing a quick turnaround as the Stanford Cardinal will visit the Huntsman Center on Saturday afternoon.
Things didn’t go so well for the Utes the first time these two teams met. Going into double-over time against the Bears, the Utes lost a late lead in the game. As a result, the Bears won with a game-winning alley-oop, 77-75. Senior Lorenzo Bonam is anxious for this rematch to get underway, because he was disappointed how things turned out on the road in Berkeley.
Bonam wants to get back at the Bears, and there would be no better revenge than taking care of business in front of the Utes’ home crowd, which may be easier said than done as Bonam says Cal plays with a lot of “heart.”
“This is the shot we were looking for, because I didn’t want that to happen at the end of the game,” Bonam said. “That was a hard way to lose, especially on an alley-oop. That’s probably the worst way because it means that we weren’t playing defense. To play them again, it’s a get-back. Makes me want to come in harder and blow them out or something”
Cal and Utah are battling it out for that No. 4 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament, however Cal’s likelihood of receiving that bye is higher than Utah’s, because in addition to getting a couple of wins this weekend, Utah needs Cal to drop its own pair of competitions.
Since the Utes can only control what’s in front of them, that’s what they’ll be doing. Head coach Larry Krystkowiak wants his team to be dialed in, and that means it cannot let the game get out of hand. In that first outing against the Bears, Krystkowiak saw a lot of inconsistencies, and he hopes that it is cleaned up this time around.
“Now it’s about execution and a sense of urgency on the next play, [and] as you head into March that’s more and more important, and it’s got to be one of the things that we’re focused on,” Krystkowiak said. “There’s far less room for error and you’re playing for higher priced stakes and it’s all coming together under a microscope and it’s a good approach.”
No update has been given on Devon Daniels, aside from the fact that he is attending practices. He has yet to participate according to Krystkowiak in his weekly press conference on Tuesday.
Since the team will have gone a full week away from competition, Krystkowiak hopes the Utes are well-rested and refreshed, and he’s thankful they will be closing out the season at home, because this could give the team a “pep” in its step heading to the Pac-12 Tournament next week.
“We were able to get a couple days away, similar for both [Cal and us], so I don’t know that it’s an advantage, but I know the timing was right for our guys to catch our breath,” Krystkowiak said.