Arizona got Lucky on Thursday night. Well, more specifically, it has Lucky.
When Luc “Lucky” Krystkowiak scored Arizona’s 88th point with 30 seconds left, it capped off a nice night for the Wildcats in beating visitor Utah, 88-62, at McKale Center.
The final two points by Krystkowiak was a fitting end to a nice night, given “Lucky” (as his teammates and coach call him) finished off Utah for win No. 23 on the season. UA is 23-4.
Remember that Krystkowiak transferred to Arizona after his dad, Larry, was let go by Utah a couple of years ago.
He’ll long remember it as the night he combined with Kerr Kriisa, Courtney Ramey, Kylan Boswell to score 40 points in Arizona’s win. Kerr had 17, Ramey had 13, Boswell had eight and, Lucky had two.
Heck, it’s his story on what was a glorious night Arizona needed after Saturday’s debacle of a loss to Stanford.
“It felt real good,” Krystkowiak said. “I know a lot of those guys on the (Utah) roster (so) it was really good seeing them. That bucket for me was pretty special.”
Special indeed. It was his first two points of the season and only his second game he’s played in after transferring from Utah.
By the time the was over, he had already received a text from his dad.
“He’s having a great time,” Luc said. “He loved that.”
As did everyone else in McKale Center, save for a spattering of Utah fans behind the Utes’ bench.
“(I’m) happy for Luc,” UA coach Tommy Lloyd said. “We call him Lucky, because we have another Luke on the team. I wanted to give him the opportunity to play. He and his family have nothing but good things to say about Utah, so it wasn’t anything like that. It was just his time. He grew up on that campus, and I’m sure playing against Utah has a special meaning. For him to have the opportunity to score a basket is really cool, and I know his teammates are really happy.”
So happy that they all but mobbed him after the game.
It may also have been the get-back game Arizona needed after the team’s horrible performance last weekend. UA got back on track, despite the uncharacteristic frustration from star Azuolas Tubelis, who sat out most of the first half with two fouls. One coming when he kicked the ball into the stands in frustration. Soon after, Lloyd stopped to talk to Azuolas before they got in a huddle then sat him the rest of the half.
“Obviously, you don’t plan for that, but you can’t do what Zu did,” Lloyd said about the kicked ball. “Zu is a great kid; he’s had an incredible year, but you can’t boot the ball into the stands. This isn’t like, open gym. It’s a game with rules and customs and standards.
“Obviously, it’s a disappointing decision by Zu, but Zu’s had an incredible year. He’s probably had such a good year, he might need a little bit of a dip and kind of reset and refocus. We’ll deal with that (Friday). He and I’ve already talked about (it) a little bit, but he’s a great guy … He came back and he responded and played better in the second half.”
He finished with 11 points, after going scoreless in the first half. He added nine rebounds.
Not all was lost on the night when it came to the UA big men. UA outscored Utah 38-10 in the paint with Oumar Ballo having eight points and seven rebounds. The biggest surprise was Henri Veesaar, who played nearly 10 minutes and had seven points. He added two rebounds.
If Lloyd was looking to find some depth – under any circumstances – the minutes played helped Veesaar with some seasoning.
“It’s good to see,” Lloyd said. “Henri, he’s lost a bit of confidence, it happens with young players. I always tell the guys, ‘this is going to be harder than they ever expected.’ And they don’t believe you. I think he’s finally gotten to the point where he’s maybe got broken down a little bit and realized that we’re right. And he needs to take a step back and open his ears and listen and start working on it. If you listen and work hard together, good things happen, so I was happy that he had a little bit of success today because yeah, it would be nice to add another player or two to the rotation in case of situations like this.”
After all, it’s not every day you’ll get lucky … or have Lucky on your side.