The old axiom holds true: Live by the three, die by the three. In several games this season, the No. 9-ranked Runnin' Utes have been living by the three. In Eugene today, they died by the three against Oregon 69-58.
The best three-point shooting team in the Pac-12 shot 30 three-pointers, making just eight of them (26.7 percent). In fact, 56.7 percent of the shots taken by the Utes were outside of the 20-foot-6-inch line. Junior point guard Brandon Taylor had an unusually tough day, shooting 2-for-10 from deep, and his teammates weren't much better. Junior forward Jordan Loveridge finished 1-for-6 from behind the three-point line, 2-of-8 over all. Utah's bench was a collective 1-for-6 from outside the arc.
You want irony? The only Utah player who shot well from outside was senior guard Delon Wright, statistically the worst three-point shooter on the team (27.1 percent on the season). Wright hit 4-of-7 from downtown (57.1 percent) to even keep the game respectable. The All Pac-12 guard finished with 20 points, two rebounds, five assists, and three steals. No other player on the Runnin' Utes roster reached double figures in scoring.
With a decided size advantage in the paint, Utah instead continued to chuck it from deep. Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak talked before the game about Utah's guards and wings refusing to pass the ball inside in the Oregon State game, and, against the Ducks, it was more of the same. Utah freshman center Jakob Poeltl, who shoots a league-leading 67.7 percent, finished with five points on just four attempted field goals, four rebounds, one assist, and two blocked shots.
Utah found themselves down by just five at the half, 32-27, after suffering through two separate four-minute scoring droughts. Poeltl who had two early fouls to go with two early turnovers, wasn't much of a factor in the first frame.
On the defenisve end, Utah held Pac-12 leading scorer Joseph Young to six points below his 20-points per game average, but Oregon got help from other places. The Ducks were led by guard Dillon Brooks, who scored 19 (on 7-of-10 shooting) and pulled down eight rebounds. Young added 14, and forward Elgin Cook pitched in 12 points.
Once again, Utah's rebounding woes showed up on the road. Oregon out-rebounded the Utes 36-31, including 11-10 on the offensive glass. That doesn't bode well heading into the Arizona game after the Wildcats destroyed the Utes on the boards. That's definitely something Krystkowiak and his staff will need to address before this week's home stand against the Arizona schools.
The loss drops Utah to 21-5 overall, 11-3 in the Pac-12 conference. The Utes, who had been trying to keep pace with Arizona, dropped into second place in the conference. Their only chance to win the school's first regular season men's Pac-12 title is to win the next four straight, including beating Arizona in the Jon M. Huntsman Center.
Next up for Utah is a Thursday clash (8:30 p.m. MT) with Arizona State () on FoxSports1. Last time out, Utah beat the Sun Devils 76-59 down in Tempe, Ariz. on the strength of 21 points from Wright and 14 from Loveridge. The Utes will get Arizona on Saturday, after they've taken care of the struggling Colorado Buffaloes in Boulder.