The Runnin’ Utes are playing in the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament on Friday night in Las Vegas and will take on three-seed Cal.
During the regular season, the teams split games, so each is pretty familiar with what they need to do to get a win. Utah is coming off of a close 80-72 win over USC on Thursday, its eighth win in a row, and Cal took care of business against Oregon State in a 76-68 win over the Beavers.
While the team is certainly excited about its winning streak, center Jakob Poeltl isn’t going to let it get to his head, or anyone else’s. Winning may give the Utes a bit of an edge, but they still need to bring it on the court.
“You kind of get that momentum, but it really doesn’t matter too much anymore because it’s a do-or-die situation now, and we’ve got to be ready for every single game,” Poeltl said. “Doesn’t really matter how many games you’ve won in the past.”
This sort of mindset comes directly from head coach Larry Krystkowiak. For the most part, he liked what he saw from his team on Thursday and hopes his players can replicate that performance against Cal. He was pleased with how well the team shared the ball, but it needs to do a better job of limiting turnovers.
However, Krystkowiak is certainly aware that any momentum the Utes have garnered over the past few weeks goes out the door at tip-off. And like he’s been emphasizing all year long, he is sure they can win if they remain focused on stopping the opposing team’s offense.
“We’ve talked about defense winning championships,” Krystkowiak said. “I think we’re connected that way. That’s probably what I’m most proud of is how we’ve grown defensively, and we continue to play together.”
Game time is set for 8:30 p.m. PT.