Utah basketball: Freshman guard Pelle Larsson, a Swedish import, making an instant impact for struggling Utes

Utah Utes guard Pelle Larsson (3) passes the ball as Colorado Buffaloes guard Eli Parquet (24) guards him during a men’s basketball game at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Utah lost 58-65.

Utah Utes guard Pelle Larsson (3) passes the ball as Colorado Buffaloes guard Eli Parquet (24) guards him during a men’s basketball game at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Utah lost 58-65. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Having lost four straight Pac-12 games, Utah (4-5, 1-4) hopes to right the ship Thursday afternoon when second-place Stanford visits Huntsman Center

The University of Utah’s play in this 2020-21 men’s basketball season has been disappointing so far, but freshman Pelle Larsson’s debut certainly hasn’t been.

The 6-foot-5 combo guard has played so well — at both ends of the floor — that he has broken into coach Larry Krystkowiak’s starting lineup, replacing senior Alfonso Plummer despite not yet possessing the type of offensive skills that Plummer has.

Krystkowiak has said he made the move before the Oregon game last week to get his best defensive players on the floor first. Riley Battin is also back in the starting lineup, replacing Branden Carlson.

For what it is worth, the Sweden-born Larsson is thrilled about it.

“I love it,” he told the Deseret News Wednesday as the Utes (4-5, 1-4) prepared to host Stanford (8-3, 4-1) at the Huntsman Center Thursday afternoon. Tipoff is at 3 p.m. MST and the game will be televised by ESPN2.

“Starting is always a goal. You want to be on the floor as much as you can, if that is starting the game or coming off the bench. I am fine with either as long as I get to see the floor as much as I can.” — Utah guard Pelle Larsson

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“Starting is always a goal,” Larsson said. “You want to be on the floor as much as you can, if that is starting the game or coming off the bench. I am fine with either as long as I get to see the floor as much as I can.”

Through nine games, Larsson is averaging 20 minutes per contest, shooting 48% from the field and 57% (8 of 14) from 3-point range. His 7.7 scoring average is fourth-highest on the team behind Timmy Allen (15.8), Plummer (13.2) and Mikael Jantunen (9.8).

Krystkowiak isn’t surprised that Larsson is making an immediate impact.

“So I thought with Pelle’s strength and his international experience … where he has been playing against men for a few years, and he’s got the physical presence and the strength, that he is going to be maybe a little bit more college ready than some other folks,” Krystkowiak said. “He likes contact and physicality. … I wouldn’t say he’s fearless, but he is not going to get intimidated by anybody.”

Larsson was outstanding in his first start, posting 15 points, five rebounds and five assists in a season-high 32 minutes in a 79-73 loss to Oregon at the Huntsman Center.

He struggled a bit two days later in a 65-58 loss to Colorado, committing three turnovers in 15 minutes and scoring just three points, but he did make a pretty lob pass to Carlson for …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News

      

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