This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Los Angeles • As Jakob Poeltl spun and hooked his way around USC's interior defense, it was easy to forget that the 7-footer has been playing with one good ankle.
It's been a while since Poeltl shined like he did in Sunday's 67-39 win at USC: He was one rebound shy of his first double-double since Dec. 3 against Wichita State. But in the last two games, he's reminded audiences why he's considered a future first-round talent in the NBA Draft whenever he chooses to move on.
With 14 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals, Poeltl was the full-court presence Utah needs him to be to reach its potential. The Utes added sets to feed him the ball, and he responded by making his first six shots.
"We really tried to get the ball more inside," he said. "Today I just really tried to be aggressive and post up my opponents, and it worked out pretty well."
Krystkowiak said the inflammation in Poeltl's ankle has been tricky. He missed a start against Washington State, and he's missed practices when he's felt it flare up. The training staff has done much to help him feel prepared, but's it been a wild card.
Saying that he felt "bad" for Poeltl as he tries to get healthy, Krystkowiak said the hope is the bum ankle will be behind him by the end of Utah's six-day layover before playing at Colorado.
"When he can get going full speed, I think it changes our team dramatically," Krystkowiak said. "And we've been missing that a little bit."
Defense by the numbers
Looking at Utah's defensive performance, the percentages and figures stick out by themselves.
Holding USC to 12 first-half points, 26.5 percent shooting in the game and forcing them into 15 turnovers is impressive by most standards - but even moreso when measured against history.
Utah was only two points off USC's program low for fewest points in a half, set with 10 points in 1982. USC hadn't show so poorly in a game since playing Cal in 1998. The last time USC scored fewer than the 39 points they scored against Utah was 38 in 2012.
The Utes' program record for fewest points in a half is 4, set in 1919. In modern times, the Utes once held Bradley to 8 points in a half in 1991.
Rest and relaxation
With "well over half our team" laid up with injury or sickness, Utah's six-day rest between games could hardly come at a better time.
Everyone was available and played in the win over USC, but the Utes are dinged up. Besides Poeltl's sprained ankle he's been playing through, Brekkott Chapman appeared to injure an ankle in the game itself. Others, including Delon Wright and Dakarai Tucker, were sick this weekend, Krystkowiak said.
Not that it showed too much.
"They didn't seem too bad today," he said. "Sometimes you have a good game when you're sick."