Utes not underestimating Wildcats

Utah is not underestimating Arizona entering Thursday's matchup.

As Larry Krystkowiak prepares for the first Pac-12 road game of the season, the 6th year coach is not underestimating the strong skillset that Arizona brings to the table.

“Their style of play is a lot of what someone would envision with an Arizona type team,” Krystkowiak said. “They’re extremely talented and well coached which will make scoring baskets really difficult for us.

“This is one of the better teams in the country when it comes to defending and they play with a lot of physicality. They have a lot of athletes who are driving and winning rebounding battles.

“It’s always a highly physical game and that’s particularly true when you’re in Tucson. You’ve got to be really dialed into that tough environment, especially against a team that is playing their first Pac-12 home game this year.

Krystkowiak is concerned about the Wildcat’s ability to get to the free throw line.

“They’ve made as many free throws as the opposition has shot total baskets,” he said. “That’s a problematic situation to have for any opposing team and we certainly have to keep them from getting to the line.”

Lauri Markkanen will be an intriguing matchup for Utah’s frontcourt duo of David Collette and Kyle Kuzma, and Krystkowiak knows containing the Fin will be nothing short of a challenge.

“I thought Lauri had that high ability coming in and he’s unbelievably skilled,” Krystkowiak said. “ It’s hard enough adjusting to college as a freshman but I think it’s even harder when you come from a place like Finland.

“You have to remember that Lauri is their leading scorer and rebounder. He has high expectations addressed upon him and I think it’s a credit to him and the coaching staff for being as productive as he has.”

Utah has yet to stick to one starting lineup this season, which Krystkowiak attributes to coaching to his players’ strengths and capabilities among other factors.

“Our starting unit for each game is different and it’s based a lot of different things,” he said. “ How the guys practice, the energy that they display and their ability to share the ball is very important.

“A lot of the components and traits within this basketball program are going to be rewarded. I’m at the point where I’ve asked to guys to give me 100 percent out there.

“We’re going to go hard and to beat a team like Arizona you have to play good quality basketball for 40 minutes. That’s what we’re going to do on Thursday.”

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