Oregon State completed the Mountain schools sweep, defeating the Runnin’ Utes 81-72 Saturday afternoon. The loss dropped the Utes to just one game above .500 in both their overall and conference record and outside of the coveted top four in PAC-12 standings. While the loss is a major blow to the Utes, there were plenty of bright spots for the team to build upon.
Timmy Allen and Sedrick Barefield were on fire, with Allen contributing 24 points and Barefield adding another 19 in the loss. With that said, Jace Johnson’s 9 points were the third most on the roster with no other Ute scoring more than six points as they allowed the dynamic duo of Allen and Barefield to take over.
Unsurprisingly, turnovers were once again an issue for the Utes, but a silver lining can be seen. Committing 14 turnovers overall, ten of those came in the first half, suggesting this team is capable of limiting lost possessions.
The biggest mark against Utah’s offensive effort came early in the game. Tied at nine a piece at the 13:24, Oregon State went on a 14-0 run, creating a deficit too large for the Utes to dig out of, leading to the eventual loss. Had Utah found a way to keep pace in that four minute stretch, it’s likely there could have been a much different outcome.
Oregon State’s Tres Tinkle was unstoppable, scoring 31 points, just one shy of his season high, along with six rebounds and four assists. Two other Beavers, forward Kyler Kelley and guard Ethan Thompson broke double digits, scoring 13 each. Every time Utah had an answer offensively, the Beavers answered right back and the Runnin’ Ute defense simply couldn’t stop them. Novak Topalovic recorded the only block for any Ute, while Timmy Allen and Jace Johnson each claimed two steals, with Utah collecting just six total as a unit.
Second half adjustments helped to keep Utah in the game. Down 46-32 at half, the Utes had managed to make it a four point game with just 2:13, however a late surge from Allen and Barefield wasn’t enough to seal the deal. Limiting turnovers to just four in the second half was a great improvement, and keeping an unusually ineffective bench off the court gave Utah a chance to steal away the victory in the closing seconds, but there seemingly just wasn’t enough gas left in the tank to get the job done.
No doubt Utah played a better than average game despite the loss. Had it not been for an almost five minute scoring drought in the first half, the Utes could have very well claimed another victory over the Beavers. Hypotheticals aside, this is a relatively young team, and massive scoring droughts are inevitably going to happen as they did today. Fans can only hope that with time and experience, this group of athletes can find a way to limit such mistakes in the weeks and seasons to come.