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Utes fall on the road to CU, 71-63

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NCAA Basketball: Utah at Southern California Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Utes live by the three and they die by the three, and they very much died by it today in Boulder against Colorado, where they dropped the game 71-63 to the Buffs. Utah falls to 9-7 in conference play, tied for 4th with UCLA, but hold the tie breaker. The Utes return home next week to take on the LA schools, with a chance to clinch a first round bye in the Pac-12 tournament.

The Utes fell behind quickly 8-0, but did rally with 9 straight to take a lead. After that, it was really a battle for that opening half, where neither team could really find the range from the floor. What really put the Utes behind the eight ball was the sequence before the end of the half where CU hit a three at the buzzer to give themselves a nine point lead.

For the Utes, while the turnover bug didn’t really bite them tonight, with just 12, they couldn’t get anything to fall. CU did burn them on the runners they did have, picking up 16 points off those turnovers. It’s so key for this team not to give up live ball turnovers, because it’s burned them all season In both halves they had at least one five minute scoring drought. You can’t go for such long stretches and not score the basketball, especially on the road. Fortunately, CU wasn’t really shooting the lights out either, they did end up sub 50% on the game, and really had to hit some shots late in the game to put the Utes away. The lead was around that nine point mark for a good stretch, before Barefield hit a timely three to make it a six point game. The Utes just needed a stop, but a defensive lapse left CU for a wide open three of their own that they knocked down.

For Utah to only shoot 39% on the game, and be within arms reach much of the game is actually impressive, but disappointing. Utah went 5 of 26 from three point range, which is shocking to me. This team has shot so well all season that I guess it was just time for them to be due for a bad shooting game.

Sedrick Barefield led the team with 19 points, while Donnie Tillman had 14, Both Gach had 12 and Timmy Allen had 11 points in his return to the floor. Hopefully they got the bad shooting game out of their system as they move on to the final two games of the regular season. For the Utes it’s simple, win out and they have a bye, and it all begins on Thursday against USC.