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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Men’s Basketball: Utes Hope to Ride Momentum From Weekend Success with Cal in Town

Utah+forward+Jordan+Loveridge+%2821%29+shoots+a+three-pointer+during+a+game+against+the+Oregon+State+Beavers+at+the+Jon+M.+Huntsman+Center+on+Sunday%2C+Jan+17%2C+2016.+Photo+credit%3A+Christopher+Ayers
Christopher Ayers
Utah forward Jordan Loveridge (21) shoots a three-pointer during a game against the Oregon State Beavers at the Jon M. Huntsman Center on Sunday, Jan 17, 2016. Photo credit: Christopher Ayers

Three wins in a row is certainly a lot better than the three glaring losses the Utes had when they were just 1-3 in conference play after dropping a game at home against the Ducks.

Since then, they’ve beaten Oregon State, Washington State and, most recently, Washington. The team is riding a high after getting an overtime win against the Huskies in a tough environment, and although the players would like to use these wins to propel them into this rematch against Cal, they know they cannot rely on the past too much.

After winning a close game in Boulder against Colorado, the team came back and, according to head coach Larry Krystkowiak, laid an egg against Oregon, losing by nearly 20 points.

Although he understands what an emotional win the Washington game was for the Utes, they can’t be too emotional if they hope to finish the season even with Cal. Krystkowiak knows they made plenty of mistakes in their first game against the Golden Bears, but a consistent effort is something he wants to translate into the rest of the season.

“You want to maximize your opportunities, and you don’t want to have any regrets,” Krystkowiak said. “Each of the 18 games tells a different story. It’s not necessarily about any one game. You’re never as good as you think you are. More about grinding and staying in the moment.”

One thing the team wants to carry over from Sunday’s win is its big man’s play. In Utah’s last two outings, Jakob Poeltl has scored a total of 45 points, and when he’s not scoring, he’s finding open players, giving him a total of 10 assists. He’s rebounding the ball fairly well, and his presence in the paint and ability to adapt to any kind of defensive pressure is making him even more of threat.

Against Cal the first go-around, he finished with 19 points but was only 6-of-14 from the floor. Krystkowiak knows Utah’s offense is going to have to be clean for the entire 40 minutes if the Utes want a win in front of their home crowd.

“We’re looking at what we did wrong,” Krystkowiak said. “We have a pretty good idea what they try to do defensively, and things don’t come easy. They’re committed to playing defense. They can throw three or four guys at Jakob, which is unique.”

Although the center has been getting most of the attention, Krystkowiak thinks his guards deserve some praise as well. Lorenzo Bonam and Brandon Taylor haven’t had their best shooting games in the last week, but they have been excelling in other areas.

Aside from sticking to the game plan, they’re both doing a better job of protecting the ball. They’re seeing the court better, and they’re pressuring the opposing guards to turn the ball over.

While it is unclear what sort of an impact the latest win will do for the Utes, Krystkowiak hopes his team can keep working hard and get through another game with another win.

“Our goal is to improve as the year goes along and be playing our best basketball at the right time of year,” Krystkowiak said. “We don’t know what that Washington game did for us because we haven’t seen how we responded. The important thing is to stay in the moment and not get caught up in the highs and lows of it.”

Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m. MST in the Huntsman.

[email protected]

@kbrenneisen

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