Los Angeles • In the grand lobby of their teams' riverside hotel in Eugene, Ore., last weekend, Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak and Colorado coach Tad Boyle sat on a brown leather couch in front of a stone fireplace and, for the last time, compared notes on seasons that seemed to be going in very different directions.
Partnered by travel schedules and newness to the Pac-12, Krystkowiak and Boyle frequently shared thoughts on opponents as the Buffaloes and Krystkowiak's Utes (6-24, 3-15 Pac-12) played the same teams each week. They did it one final time, with the assumption that this would be their final encounter of the year.
Then, the wackiest weekend of the Pac-12 season ensued.
"We didn't think we were going to be playing each other again," Krystkowiak said. "It took some pretty special things to line up for that to happen, but it did."
The Utes will get their third shot at Colorado on Wednesday in the Pac-12 Tournament in Los Angeles after the Buffaloes lost at Oregon State to fall out of the top four and into a first-round matchup with Utah, a team Colorado beat by 40 on Dec. 31.
The Utes are coming off their one loss worse than that one, a 46-point spanking at Oregon on Saturday. Utah is enduring the worst season in program history, but a victory in the conference tournament at Staples Center would go a long way toward sending the Utes into the offseason with happier thoughts.
"We can't finish without another win," Utah junior guard Cedric Martin said. "We don't want to finish without another win. Our main goal is to come out here and give our full effort and get another win."
The Utes nearly notched one against the Buffs on Feb. 18, tying the game with four minutes remaining before ultimately losing by seven. That result leaves the Utes feeling better about their chances than they would have against, say, UCLA, which beat them by 27 points in their one matchup and was another possible first-round opponent.
"It's hard to beat a team three times in a row," Utah center Jason Washburn said. "You get a third crack, third time's a charm, however you want to look at it to make yourself feel good about it."
After the Utes lost by 40 in Boulder, they won their next game in overtime against Washington State. They're hoping to bounce back the same way against the Buffs after losing to the Ducks.
Utah vs. Colorado
P First round, Pac-12 Tournament, at Staples Center, Los Angeles
Tipoff • Wednesday, 9:40 p.m. MST
TV • ROOT Sports
Radio • 700 AM
Records • Utah 6-24 (3-15), Colorado (19-11, 11-7)
Series record • Colorado 22-15
Last meeting • Colorado 55-48 (Feb. 18)
About the Utes • Coming off their worst loss in program history, 94-48 at Oregon on Saturday. … The Utes opened Pac-12 play with a 73-33 loss at Colorado on New Year's Eve. … Junior center Jason Washburn scored a career-high 26 points against the Ducks. Washburn leads the Utes with 11.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.
About the Buffaloes • Coming off consecutive losses for the first time in the Pac-12 after falling 90-81 at Oregon and 83-69 at Oregon State. … Former Ute Carlon Brown leads the Buffs with 12.2 points per game, while sophomore forward Andre Roberson averages 11.2 points and 11.2 rebounds per game.
Pac-12 men's basketball tournament
At Staples Center, Los Angles
Note • All times MST
First round, Wednesday
Game 1 • No. 8 Washington State vs. No. 9 Oregon State, 1:10 p.m.
Game 2 • No. 5 UCLA vs. No. 12 USC, 3:40 p.m.
Game 3 • No. 7 Stanford vs. No. 10 Arizona State, 7:10 p.m.
Game 4 • No. 6 Colorado vs. No. 11 Utah, 9:40 p.m.
Game 5 • No. 1 Washington vs. Game 1 winner, 1:10 p.m.
Game 6 • No. 4 Arizona vs. Game 2 winner, 3:40 p.m.
Game 7 • No. 2 California vs. Game 3 winner, 7:10 p.m.
Game 8 • No. 3 Oregon vs. Game 4 winner, 9:40 p.m.
• Game 5 and Game 6 winners, 7:10 p.m.
• Game 7 and Game 8 winners, 9:40 p.m.
• Championship game, 4:10 p.m.