Utah basketball: Remorseful Josh Watkins returns to Utes
College basketball • Utes point guard, top scorer missed 1 game.
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Josh "Jiggy" Watkins returned to Utah basketball practice Thursday, less than 24 hours after the then-suspended point guard watched from the stands as his teammates lost by 31 points to Cal State-Fullerton.

Humble, direct and apologetic, the senior said he hurt his team with actions that resulted in an indefinite-turned-one-game suspension that coach Larry Krystkowiak lifted Thursday.

"I couldn't be more mad that I wasn't out there and I let my guys down," Watkins said. "I'm just grateful to be back and just contribute to the team."

Krystkowiak suspended Watkins, who averages 17.7 points for the 1-7 Utes, on Monday after he arrived 10 minutes late to practice. It was just the latest in a string of issues with Watkins, and Krystkowiak made an example of his best player.

Thursday at practice, Watkins was out front of his teammates in sprints, a first for the notoriously chubby player who showed up this fall 30 pounds over his playing weight.

"We're ready to move forward," Krystkowiak said, "chalk it up to experience. We're having a hard enough time competing on the basketball court right now that I just have a really short fuse for things like that."

Watkins watched much of Wednesday's 81-50 loss to the Titans from the stands of the Huntsman Center. The Utes fell behind 14-0 in the first three minutes and never cut the deficit to fewer than seven points.

"It was hard watching my guys," Watkins said. "I was just mad I couldn't be out there with them."

The Utes have lost seven in a row and host rival Brigham Young on Saturday.

boram@sltrib.com

Twitter: @oramb