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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Men’s hoops: Runnin’ Utes more focused heading into ASU matchup

After walking off the court in Eugene, Ore. a loser for just the fifth time in his young career as a Ute, freshman Brekkott Chapman was beside himself.

“I wasn’t happy with myself, and with the team,” Chapman said.


With the competitive nature of most athletes, it’s no wonder that Chapman and the rest of the No. 13 Utes felt a little sour after dropping a winnable contest versus the Ducks. However, despite the loss, Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak remained somewhat positive.

“You never want to lose a game, but the corrections are something we’ve known for awhile,” Krystkowiak said. “Guys are focused now … we need to fix whats broken.”

The focus that Krystkowiak talks about is something that has been showcased in the week following the loss.

When Dakarai Tucker walked into practice earlier in the week he felt a sense of urgency and motivation to prepare for Arizona State on Thursday and the big one against Arizona on Saturday.

“We’ve been focused,” Tucker said. “We just have to not let the loss get to us, just learn from it. Whatever’s in the past, you can’t do anything about it now. You just have to keep moving forward and keep playing hard.”

Chapman mentioned how some of the older players, such as Brandon Taylor and Delon Wright, led the charge this week in practice telling the rest of the players that the time is now.

Saturday’s matchup against the Wildcats is one of the most anticipated contests in this college basketball season, and while it may not be getting the national attention it deserves, make no mistake that this game has serious postseason implications.

While most of the campus and nearly all of the Ute faithful are looking forward to Saturday night’s tilt against Arizona, the Runnin’ Utes know that there is a game to be won beforehand.

“Never, we never look past any games,” Tucker said. “Take it one step at a time because there’s no telling what can happen when we play ASU, so we need to take that game really serious.”

In fact, Krystkowiak is on record saying that the team won’t even look at it and “won’t discuss Arizona until Thursday after the game.”

With all of the focus being on the Sun Devils, the Utes will have to watch out for a team that has won four of their last five, which all started with an upset-victory over the Wildcats on Feb. 7.

At first glance Arizona State doesn’t have a player that really sticks out, but that could prove to be dangerous for Utah on defense. The Sun Devils currently have 10 players that average 10-plus minutes a game, with three of them averaging over 10 points per game.

“They’re getting great performances from guys,” Krystkowiak said. “It’s not one guy but different people have stepped up. Their rotation seems clearer.”

The Utah defense has had no problem stopping high-volume scorers, but the well-balanced attacks have given the Utes trouble at times — especially in their losses.

However, the common factor in all of those losses is that they have been on the road. The Utes have won 17 straight games at home dating back to last season, and they will feel that love when they return to the Huntsman Center after a weekend on the road.

“I think around here on this campus, we’re always on top of the world,” Chapman said. “Everyone treats us really well, so no matter win or lose, we’ll always have that positive side here on campus.”

Tip-off against Arizona State is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.

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