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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Adams: Utes, Krystkowiak Will Not Soon Forget Emery’s Cheap Shot


Before I even get into what I’m about to talk about, let me preface this column by saying that I have the utmost respect for BYU. Out of the six kids in my family, four have been Cougars, and I can’t believe I’m about to admit this to just be out in the open, but even I (gulp) went to that school down south for a year before seeing the light.

Again, this is a school I have family ties to — a school I’ve had a personal connection with — so please do not consider the following a personal attack on BYU whatsoever.

But what freshman Cougar Nick Emery did to senior Brandon Taylor last night in the Utah-BYU rivalry game in the Huntsman Center was nothing short of a blatant cheap shot — simple as that.

Late in the second half with the Cougars trailing, Emery decided to change direction under the basket with Taylor all over him like white on rice. As the freshman changes direction, however, he comes across with his left hand (his dominant hand) and swings at Taylor’s head.

Taylor goes down, and — again, this is all from what I (and all of us) saw on the court — it appeared that Emery had some words for Taylor as he was clutching his face on the ground.

This led to the madness that ensued, including trash talk between Emery, Taylor and even Ute head coach Larry Krystkowiak. After further review, Emery was quickly ejected from the game for a flargrant-two foul as the Huntsman Center air filled with boos toward the freshman from Alpine, Utah.

Despite a difference of opinions between the schools, Krystkowiak was adamant that the play was intentional, as was Taylor, after the game.

“I saw it live,” Krystkowiak said. “Basically punched Brandon, and I watched him tell him to stay on the ground after he punched him. Crazy things happen in this game, and I just hope that’s something we would never do.”

Taylor followed by saying, “It was a dirty play. It’s uncalled for, and it is what it is. I bounced right back and got right back up.”

And although Taylor didn’t bounce immediately back up, it’s only because the forearm to his face was pretty vicious. This wasn’t a street fight. This was in the middle of the game with seemingly nothing leading up to it to provoke the punch.

I’m not naïve enough to believe that absolutely nothing had been going on that game that could have frustrated Emery. I’m sure there was some trash talk going both ways, and maybe some pushing and shoving on occasion. It’s a rivalry game, after all.

And being from Utah, Emery knows how much this rivalry means to the teams and their fan bases. Maybe just being down in such a hostile environment was too much emotion for the freshman, and that’s how he chose to handle it.

But to just glaringly throw a punch, forearm, whatever it was, in the middle of a game against any opponent at any time is just wrong.

This isn’t an issue of “who’s more righteous,” either. Sure, BYU holds itself to a higher standard than most schools in the country, and maybe it is something the administration will look into a little bit deeper in the coming days. But it’s not Utah fans’ job to boast or brag or even belittle the rival fan base for something the Utes (though not the current ones) have been guilty of before.

Look, I’m sure Emery isn’t a bad guy. In fact, I’ve heard the exact opposite from people who seem to know the kid. But make no mistake, Emery’s smack on Taylor was 100 percent, without a doubt, an obvious, glaring personal foul that was targeted towards the Ute point guard specifically.

We may never know the real reason as to why Emery reacted in that way on Wednesday night in the Huntsman Center, but one thing that is for sure is that Krystkowiak and company will remember this one for a long, long time.

He doesn’t forget things easily.

“We had an ejection two years ago — Eric Mika,” Krystkowiak said. “Two in three years. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.”

And Krystkowiak drops the mic, while the Utes get the last laugh.

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