Utes look to defeat BYU in ‘hostile environment,’ step up free throw game

— Erin Burns

After ending Wichita State’s 35-game regular-season winning streak, the No. 13 Runnin’ Utes now get ready to travel down south to take on in-state rival BYU. These are just two of five challenging games Utah will compete in during the non-conference stages of the season, and Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak thinks the difficult contests will help his team improve throughout the campaign.
“This stretch of games really helps us simulate a tough Pac-12 road trip,” Krystkowiak said. “We expect two hostile environments, and we just want to keep following the blueprint.”
After playing in Provo against the Cougars on Wednesday, the Utes will then stay on the road for games against No. 10 Kansas and UNLV. According to Krystkowiak, it’s all about staying alive.
“We survived against Wichita State, and now we head in to two tough environments this week with BYU and Kansas,” Krystkowiak said.
 
Free-throw struggles
Against the Shockers last week, Utah squeaked by in overtime, with just a single point separating the two teams. However, the lead could have been more if the Runnin’ Utes hadn’t missed 11 free throws throughout the contest.
“The sloppiness has to stop,” Krystkowiak said.
The charity stripe has been a problem for Utah thus far in the young season, with the team hitting under 70 percent of its free throws. Additionally, the head coach isn’t too happy with some of the turnovers his team has committed, including 11 against Wichita State.
In order to clean things up, Krystkowiak has taken necessary measures at practice.
“We call it ‘taking our daily vitamins.’ We’ve been taking 100 [shots] a day, and we’ve been working with guys who have struggled on routines,” Krystkowiak said. “We are only making 2-of-3 tries at the moment, which is not good. I’m not happy with the turnovers either, so when we mess up in practice, we do a little running, a little conditioning.”
 
Twin towers
In Dallyn Bachynski and Jakob Poeltl, the Runnin’ Utes boast two legitimate seven-footers on their roster, but usually only one of them is on the floor at. Poeltl has been given the nod to start in every game this season, but Bachynski has seen plenty of time on the court, usually in relief of the freshman.
However, with both Bachynski and Poeltl playing well to this point in the season, Krystkowiak has explored the option of putting both in the lineup at the same time.
“They provide some versatility in the lineup,” Krystkowiak said. “It’s certainly feasible in these next two games. The ‘4’s’ and ‘5’s’ do the same thing in our offense, other than out-of-bounds plays usually. It’s what the game calls for. If we aren’t rebounding or doing well on the interior, then that versatility comes into play.”
 
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