Photo courtesy of Deseret News
Utes stay with Ducks, lose in final minutesMissed the Oregon game? Well re-watch the Washington one, because Saturday's game was strikingly similar. And, unfortunately, so was the final result, a Utah loss. Even though Utah stayed competitive throughout most of the game, as the final minutes wore on, the Utes went cold and watched a 4-point deficit balloon to double digits in a matter of what appeared to be seconds. The Utes would make no comeback and lost 75-64, dropping their record to 5-3 on the season.
Utah's hot shooting early built a small lead and it looked like Utah could be poised for the upset. However, a late run to end the half, including a 3 pointer at the buzzer, gave the Ducks a slight five point lead. Utah would never recover, though they did manage to cut the Ducks lead to 4 late in the second half before mistakes, fouls and cold shooting killed any chance of the upset. It was Utah's first loss since a 72-57 setback to Santa Clara in November.
Leading the Utes in scoring was guard Tyler Kepkay with 23 points. Kepkay was on fire for most of the day, hitting on 9 of 16 shots, including a team high 4 of 9 from outside. He was the only Ute to score in double figures, with Luke Nevill's 9 coming the closest. In comparison, Oregon had 4 players with 10 or more points, with Bryce Taylor leading the way with 20.
Utah shot the ball well, hitting nearly 47% of their shots from the field, however, defense was an issue. The Ducks shot 54% on the day, which catapulted them to victory. Of course, Oregon was also helped by the ridiculous free throw discrepancy.
Charatable officialsWhile Utah failed to score down the stretch, it didn't help that Oregon seemed to be going to the line nearly every time they dribbled the ball down the court. The Ducks managed to get a near obscene 22 free throws, compared to Utah's less than generous 5. The questionable calls did handicap Utah most of the day, as Utah's starting five accounted for 14 of Utah's fouls -- compared to only 6 by the Ducks' starters. However, Utah still had chances and in the end, didn't make the plays needed to win the game.
Nevill continues poor playLuke Nevill just doesn't seem to get it. His soft play continued Saturday, as he only managed 9 points and a pathetic five rebounds for a player of his height. He rarely forcefully went to the basket and only managed to go to the line once. For a big like Luke, he should have no problem dominating inside, but that's something he has yet to do under Boylen.
For Utah to have success in conference play, they will need Nevill to pick up his game. As much as other players have really progressed under Boylen, Nevill has shown no sign of improvement in his third year. The dismal play of Nevill has surely been an issue in all three of Utah's losses and if he doesn't get better, it will probably be the reason for Utah struggling the rest of the season. This team has talent, but it can't overcome poor play from Nevill with the depth issues it has.
Utah played decent and stayed with a far better Oregon team. Obviously there are no moral victories and I won't take this as one, but this team is progressing and slowly becoming a solid force once again. It's just a shame Boylen can't have a complete effort from Nevill, because this team could be really good if he did.