The season ended in a fizzle for the Utes, as they dropped their opening round NIT game to Boise State at the Huntsman Center on Tuesday night 73-68. Utah struggled in some of the most fundamental aspects of the game, and in some areas we’ve seen all year long. We saw some careless turnovers, ok a lot of careless turnovers with 16 (double of what BSU had) and a bunch of missed free throws, only going 9 of 16, plus some missed bunnies in the paint. The team looked engaged for short spurts, and when they were, they would make some headway, when they weren’t, well, you saw what happened.
The game started fairly strong for the Utes, as they build a nice lead, but BSU battled back on the shoulders of Chandler Hutchinson’s 34 points. Utah couldn’t keep him out of the paint. Utah then built an 11 point lead in the second half, just to see it fade away, especially thanks to a late 16-1 run to overcome the Utes.
Utah got strong efforts from Kyle Kuzma with 21 points and 9 rebounds, David Collette with 15 points and 11 boards, and Gabe Bealer with 10 points of his own, including 3 of 4 from three. The Utes were torched off the bench, with a 27-11 deficit to the Broncos. The problem really was each Ute that played basically had at least two turnovers. As we’ve seen this year, when you turn the ball over that many times, which happened a lot, you make things difficult on yourself, and teams will come up and beat you.
It’s a disappointing end to an unspectacular year. It’s unfortunate that senior Lorenzo Bonam had to end his career like this, but he had some nice moments throughout the season, and of course a year ago.
What’s next for the Utes? That’s a good question. As long as there’s not a major roster shakeup, which has happened quite a bit over the last six seasons, most of the team will be back. I feel like Utah is a really good point guard away from being dangerous. By point guard, I mean a guy that can get the offense setup, and not allow these massive turnover numbers. Utah has some shooters and scorers, especially on the wing, but they need a distributor. We’ll see if they can find somebody that can keep this team under control, because they have a bunch of really nice pieces everywhere else.
Well, the good news is that it’s spring football time!