It’s huge. It really looks like the conference season has started in terms of quality of play. We are going to have our hands full. We haven’t seen this kind of firepower before. —Larry Krystkowiak, Utah head coach
SALT LAKE CITY — It’s a big week for the rebuilding Utah Utes. After opening the season with a 5-2 record, things kick up a notch with a home game against Boise State (6-1) Wednesday and a trip to rival BYU (5-3) on Saturday.
“It’s huge. It really looks like the conference season has started in terms of quality of play,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said, while noting that both the Broncos and Cougars have offenses of note. “We are going to have our hands full. We haven’t seen this kind of firepower before.”
Although the Utes currently lead the Pac-12 in scoring defense by holding the opposition to an average of 57.6 points per game, Krystkowiak expects this week’s games to be a huge challenge.
And it starts with what Krystkowiak calls “an absolute machine” in Boise State. The Broncos' lone loss this season was a four-point decision at No. 15 Michigan State. Since then they've knocked off No. 11 Creighton (83-70) on the road. Krystkowiak credits Leon Rice for doing a great job coaching the Broncos. Derrick Marks and Anthony Drmic are the scoring leaders with 18.7 and 15.9 points, respectively.
Utah counters with double-digit scorers Jarred DuBois (15.7 ppg) and Jordan Loveridge (12.3 ppg).
“The Boise State game is big,” DuBois said. “Not because it’s Boise State but because it's our next game. Each game that we play is big for us."
Utah is just one win away from equaling last season’s six victories. However, it’s not the only measuring stick for progress in the program.
“While wins and losses are important, our guys are getting better. They’re getting better in the classroom and they’re getting better in the community,” Krystkowiak said. “They’re getting better as basketball players, and we’re going to represent the program in grand fashion.”
It’s a work in progress, though, with a revamped roster in the midst of a schedule that has featured wins over Willamette, Idaho State, Central Michigan, Wright State and Texas State. Losses have come against Sacramento State and SMU.
Fans attending Wednesday’s game will receive a patch in remembrance of former Utah coach Rick Majerus, who died Saturday at the age of 64. A commemorative video will be shown and a moment of silence held before tipoff. The Utes will wear red patches with Majerus’ initials on their uniforms for the remainder of the season.
Later in the year, Utah officials will hang a replica of Majerus’ famed white sweater from the arena rafters.
Boise State (6-1) will play Utah (5-2) on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Huntsman Center. (TV: Pac-12 Networks, Radio: ESPN, 700 AM)