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Berkeley, Calif. • Larry Krystkowiak knows Mike Montgomery, and Mike Montgomery knows Larry Krystkowiak.
Montgomery, now the Cal coach, recruited Krystkowiak out of Big Sky (Mont.) High School when he was the coach at Montana. The two won 68 percent of their games in four years together, the hard-nosed forward and his no-frills coach.
It's been 26 years since Krystkowiak, now in his first year as Utah's coach, and Montgomery shared a basketball court. They both left Montana after the 1986 season Krystkowiak for the NBA and Montgomery for Stanford, where he spent the next 18 years.
Saturday, though, the two will reunite in Berkeley, Krystkowiak's hard-nosed Utes against Montgomery's no-frills Golden Bears.
"He's liable to know some of the stuff that we're doing," Montgomery said, "because we probably did some of the stuff at Montana."
But now is not the time for reminiscing.
"I think it's neat that we're coaching against each other," Krystkowiak said. "It's an awful lot bigger than our relationship."
Krystkowiak has the moribund Utes on a relative surge. After starting the season 1-8 and reaching their low point with a 40-point loss at Colorado to open Pac-12 play, the Utes (4-12, 1-3) have lost their past two games by a combined seven points.
"It looked like there for a while it could be easy for guys to just throw in the towel," Montgomery said. "And obviously they have not done that, so you have to give credit to Larry and his coaching staff."
The Utes on Thursday lost a heartbreaker at Stanford, 68-65, but the game affirmed the fact that Krystkowiak has Utah on the right track. Prior to Thursday, the Utes' average loss away from the Huntsman Center was by 26 points.
Cal, meanwhile, is 14-4 and 4-1 in conference games. In a conference without a true favorite, the Bears are at least likeable as a potential NCAA Tournament representative.
Former Utah recruit Allen Crabbe was last year's Pac-10 Freshman of the Year for the Bears and averages 16.1 points per game.
Earlier this season Krystkowiak coached the Utes against Montana State, led by former Grizzlies assistant Brad Huse and on Thursday he was rematched with a former teammate. Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins and Krystkowiak were both NBA rookies with the San Antonio Spurs in 1986.
"I'm as proud of him as when I played with him," Dawkins said.
Utah at California
P At Haas Pavilion (Berekeley, Calif.)
Tipoff • Saturday, 8:30 p.m.
Radio • 700 AM
Records • Utah 4-12, 1-3; California 14-4, 4-1
Series record • Cal leads 9-8
Last meeting • Cal, 72-69 (Dec. 10, 2008)
About the Utes • After losing their Pac-12 opener to Colorado by 40 points, the Utes have been outscored in their past three conference games by a total of five points. … Josh Watkins is fifth in the Pac-12 and leads the Utes with 15.7 points per game. … Jason Washburn is shooting 58.3 percent from the field, fourth best in the conference. … The Utes won at Cal on Dec. 22, 2007.
About the Golden Bears • Allen Crabbe leads the Pac-12 with 3-pointers made at 51. He shoots 47 percent from behind the 3-point line, second-best in the conference. … The Bears are 2-4 on the road, losing at Missouri, San Diego State, UNLV and Oregon State. … Coach Mike Montgomery is in his fourth season with Cal and has amassed a 78-41 record. He took the Bears to the NCAA Tournament two of his first three seasons.