In Utah’s first real test of this young season, the Utes fell short to the Big East’s Butler Bulldogs by a score of 68-59 Monday night at the Huntsman Center. For the Utes, who have played an awful schedule to date, Butler provided a real test to let everyone know where this young team is, and to no one's surprise, they have some work to do.
First off, Utah showed what they’ve always showed since Coach K took over, and that’s fight. The Utes, especially in the second half, kept falling behind 15+ points, and they’d battle back to single digits. However, Utah needs some work offensively, as only Kyle Kuzma (21 points) and Lorenzo Bonam (17 points) were in double figures. The Utes were also 3-of-20 from beyond the three point line, something that needs to come up. Utah also had 18 turnovers that led to 23 Butler points, another thing that is a major concern. You’d think the addition of Sedric Barefield in a couple of weeks will help significantly. Utah was aggressive getting to the basket, which led to a 18-of-22 mark from the free thrown line. Utah has a bit of a problem of getting into one-on-one isolation play too often, especially Bonam, which leads to spurts of turnovers.
On defense, the Utes were hit or miss, but had some really good stretches, especially with Tyler Rawson on the floor. He has a knack to get to the ball and disrupt people. Butler did shoot over 50% from the floor, but they did have to hit some tough shots to get there. I think Utah’s defense could keep them in a lot of games if it continues to improve.
All-in-all, a good game for the Utes to get under their belt, as they look to continue to improve as they get closer to conference play. They now have film against a good opponent that they can learn from.
Next for the Utes is a matchup against Montana State on Thursday.