Recognized for being among the most complete teams in the nation, Utah is poised not to get caught up in the praise.
Playing with their highest ranking in 16 seasons, the No. 9 Utes look to continue their recent home dominance Wednesday night against Colorado.
Utah (12-2, 2-0 Pac-12) beat USC and UCLA at home by a combined 56 puts to open with two straight Pac-12 victories for the first time since joining the league in 2011-12. Since losing 63-60 at then-No. 10 Kansas on Dec. 13, the Utes have won five straight by an average of 23.8 points.
Though this is Utah’s highest ranking since concluding 1998-99 at No. 6, coach Larry Krystkowiak knows the journey has just begun.
"It feels good (but) we don’t talk about it," he said. "Behind the scenes here we don’t really care about it too much. Another time of year, near the end, that number would mean more but it’s an indication of moving forward."
Utah ranks among the national leaders shooting 50.8 percent, including 55.4 percent while going 10-0 at home. The Utes also are among the country’s best while yielding 55.5 points per contest on 36.2 percent shooting, including 51.0 points and 35.9 percent in the last five games.
They set a school record with 11 made 3-pointers in Friday’s 79-55 win over the Trojans and allowed a season-low 39 points in a 32-point win over the Bruins on Sunday – their largest margin of victory against a Pac-12 foe.
"Right now our defense is really providing us a spark," Krystkowiak said after the Utes held UCLA to 28.8 percent shooting. "Everybody is locked into the game plan. In particular, it’s really helping our offense."
Leading scorer Delon Wright (15.1 points per game) has averaged 10.3 points in the last three games, but 8.0 assists in the last four. He recorded seven rebounds with four steals against the Bruins.
"Delon is our leading scorer and doesn’t care about stats," Krystkowiak said. "Not many guys want to come out if they can get some more points at the end of the game but he knows that other guys need to get some time. He is completely unselfish."
After recording 17 points, 11 assists and seven steals during a 79-75 overtime loss at Colorado on Feb. 1, Wright scored 21 during the 75-64 home victory over the Buffaloes on March 1.
A winner in 12 in a row and 30 of 32 at home, Utah has won two straight there over Colorado (9-5, 2-0), which also defeated UCLA and USC last week but totaled 90 points on 32.4 percent shooting while losing at Wyoming and Georgia this season. The Buffaloes also fell by three to Hawaii on its home floor during the Diamond Head Classic last month.
It’s uncertain if 6-foot-10 Josh Scott (14.8 points, 7.7 rebounds per game) will play for Colorado after missing the last two games with back spasms. The junior totaled 37 points and 17 boards in both games versus Utah in 2013-14.
"We have no choice but to prepare like he’s playing," Krystkowiak said. "He’s one of the best big men in the conference."
Teammate Askia Booker (15.8 ppg) has averaged 20.0 points in the last three and had 18 with seven assists in Sunday’s 86-65 rout of USC. However, he’s totaled 20 points on 6-of-30 shooting in three games at Utah.
Colorado won 48-47 over then-No. 19 Oregon on Feb. 7, 2013, for its last road victory over a ranked opponent.