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Utah battles but falls to No. 6 Nevada 86-71

NCAA Basketball: Utah at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Utes battled for much of the game against Nevada, but a sloppy start to open the second half did them in, as Utah fell to the No. 6 rated Nevada Wolfpack at the Huntsman Center 86-71. Utah had a great game plan in this game, and really executed to really well for much of the game. On defense, Utah was running different versions of a zone, to keep Nevada a off balance and to limit paint touches. It really slowed down Nevada, and Utah controlled the pace of the game for the entire first half.

Having a breakout game this season, and his third consecutive good game off the bench, Sedrick Barefield was the guy that was keeping the Utes in the game on the offensive side of the ball. Sed dropped 33 points on 10 of 15 shooting, including 6 of 10 from downtown. Nevada could not stop Barefield, who had 19 of those points in the first half, and was hitting the ‘Pack from all over the place.

The second half, Nevada came out swinging at the Utes, and quickly had a 7-0 run out of the locker room, putting a one point lead to 8, and then they stretched it to 11 and Utah couldn’t quite dig out of the hole. Barefield helped lead the Utes to back within four, but Nevada and Caleb Martin’s 33 points kept the lead around 10 points for much of the second half.

Once again, turnovers really doomed the Utes, as they had 17 on the game, and three straight coming out of the break to put them behind the eight ball. Utah needs to find a way to take care of the ball. Sed also didn’t get a ton of help throughout the game. Timmy Allen started the game strong, and ended with 11 points, but he went MIA for a while. Donnie Tillman got aggressive way too late, but he ended up with 13 points. We can’t count on Barefield going nuclear every game, so the Utes need to continue to find some balance scoring.

I think Barefield coming off the bench is the right move, and it stay that way. I do think Tillman should be starting in the place of Jayce Johnson. You can’t have seven points between four starters. Jayce just isn’t an offensive weapon, although he did clog up the paint well on defense today.

I liked the effort and game plan I saw today. It was just Nevada’s five fifth year starters and their experience wore the Utes down. I saw some flashes of some really good basketball out of the team today, and I think they’ve made some nice progress over the last week or so.

Now they have to put it together for conference play, starting next week at ASU. A couple more tweaks and I think this team could be a headache for others around around the league. They still have a ways to go, but the battle I saw out of them today is a great building block to work with.