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Pope, Utah Staffer Separated After Exchanging Words Following Rivalry

Brigham Young Cougars head coach Mark Pope and Utah assistant coach Chris Jones have words after Utah defeated BYU in an NCAA basketball game at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. Utah won 102-95 in overtime. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – The BYU and Utah rivalry has changed a lot over recent years, but one thing remains the same in this historic rivalry is that emotions run high. After Utah’s overtime win against BYU, there were some heated exchanges between both teams.

Before the final seconds ran off, BYU forward Jake Toolson was called for an offensive foul. Moments after the foul call on the BYU Sports Network radio broadcast heard on KSL NewsRadio, the Voice of the Cougars Greg Wrubell said, “Jake Toolson is talking to the Utah bench right now. You want to stay away from that. There were coaches jawing at Jake and Jake was going back at them.”

The Pac-12 Network which carried the television broadcast acknowledged the heated exchange after Toolson’s offensive foul as well. Play-by-play voice Ted Robinson described the following, “Jake Toolson just walked over and said something to Larry Krystkowiak,” Robinson said on the television broadcast. “Krystkowiak is being calmed a little bit.”

Once the game was over, the two teams headed towards center-court for post-game handshakes. Larry Krystkowiak and Mark Pope had a quick exchange in the handshake line after the game concluded. Emotions were running high and the handshake ended up as more of a slight touch of the hands, rather than an actual handshake.

When Mark Pope headed back to his bench, Utah Director of Basketball Operations Chris Jones (father to Utah guard Rylan Jones) confronted Pope. Pope then started talking back to Jones and the two were then broken up from one another. The two teams then went to their separate locker rooms in the arena.

In the postgame, KSL Sports asked Pope about the exchange between him and Jones. Pope said the following, “I don’t have much to say about that. What I will say, when you go through the line, coaches should have enough restraint not to get into it with the players.”

During Larry Krystkowiak’s press conference, Krystkowiak was asked why Pope didn’t shake his hand.

“It’s hard to shake a hand when you lose a game,” Krystkowiak said after the game about Pope allegedly not shaking his hand. “I have been on that end and it’s frustrating, I know Mark (Pope) is a standup guy and there is nothing to it. There is a lot of emotion in the ballgame. It’s alright, I understand that and the nature of it.”

With the victory, Utah snapped a two-game losing streak in the rivalry to BYU earning their first victory since 2015. In 2015, the last time prior to Wednesday that the two programs met in the Huntsman Center.

Utah is now 6-2 on the season while BYU falls to 6-4. Next up for the Utes in their final home game of the non-conference schedule against Central Arkansas this Saturday. BYU will face old Mountain West rival UNLV at the Vivint Smarthome Arena on Saturday as well.

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