After a dominating win against Arizona State and an exciting overtime loss to Arizona, it looked as if the Utes had finally found their groove. However, a Thursday night meeting against the Washington Huskies showed the Utes still have some work to do if they hope to earn a first round bye in the upcoming conference tournament after dropping their matchup 69-53.
In reality, the Utes possibly deserve a lower grade. Managing a season low 53 points in their conference home opener, the offense simply couldn’t buy a basket. Sinking only six of their 30 attempts from three-point range (Sedrick Barefield and Donnie Tillman leading the charge with two each), Utah showed what it means to live by the three and die by the three. On the bright side, rebounding continued to be a high point for the Runnin’ Utes, grabbing 44 rebounds, 11 from freshman Timmy Allen, in the loss. Regardless, multiple second and third chances at the basket didn’t translate to points, and a bevy of turnovers once again doomed the Utes.
Holding Washington to 69 points looks good on paper, but this is the same Washington team that scored just 57 points against a 6-6 Sacramento team just three weeks ago. Utah struggled mightily against Washington’s zone offense, allowing seniors Noah Dickerson and David Crisp to go off for 13 and 17 points respectively. It was sophomore Nahziah Carter’s 18 points off the bench that underscored just how bad the defensive effort was tonight, well above his average of 7.9 points per game.
The turnover issue is (no pun intended) getting out of hand. The Utes are giving up more points than is acceptable at this point in the season. No matter how lackluster the PAC-12 may be right now, 16 turnovers is bad enough that even the worst teams in the conference will be able to capitalize if this issue isn’t corrected.
It was a poor overall effort from the Utes in front of their home crowd. As good as the Utes looked against the Arizona schools last week, all that progress and momentum seems to have been left at the baggage claim. With that said, the development of Both Gach is promising, playing a season high 28 minutes tonight. In his extended role, the freshman forward was 3-9 and 1-5 from deep, with four assists, five rebounds and two steals. On the flip side, his stat line also includes four turnovers, tied with Timmy Allen for the most on team.