SALT LAKE CITY — When Utah and BYU play Saturday at Vivint Arena in the Beehive Classic, it will mark the first time the Cougars’ Nick Emery has faced the Utes after the famous brouhaha in 2015 when Emery’s punch of Brandon Taylor caused the Utes to take a one-year cooling off period from the annual series.
Emery missed last season and has had more troubles since then, being suspended for the first nine games of this season for breaking NCAA rules because of benefits he received from BYU boosters. Saturday’s game will be his second after the suspension as he is scheduled to play Wednesday night against Utah State.
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak, who mended fences with Emery a year ago with a couple of text messages between the two after choosing to suspend the series in 2016, talked about the upcoming game and Emery at his weekly press conference Tuesday.
When asked about his team facing Emery for the first time since the 2015 game at the Huntsman Center and any emotions it might conjure up, he said, “As far as emotions go, no.” He also didn’t think Emery’s presence on the court would make a big difference in the Utes’ preparation.
“I don’t think it really changes,” he said. “We’re familiar with what Nick does well. I think it can’t be something we’re thinking about as far as the game plan goes, because we don’t have a lot of database and recent film.”
Rather, Krystkowiak believes it will be more of an adjustment for BYU after not having Emery play in the first nine games of the season.16 comments on this story
“That’s going to be something that’s a little bit new for them and it might be more of a transition for figuring it out from coach Rose’s perspective than it would be from mine,” he said. “He’s certainly a weapon for them that we’re going to have to account for. My job this week is just to figure out our guys and make things as easy as possible Saturday. We certainly can’t complicate it too much with a young man who’s just jumping back in the fray.”
Last December, Krystkowiak talked about an exchange of text messages he had had with Emery after the BYU player reached out to him with an apology. At the time, Krystkowiak called it “pretty cool” and added, “Kudos to him for reaching out.”