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Utes lose to USC

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

The Utes road woes continue in the Pac-12 as they lost to USC on Thursday night, 56-52. The Utes were led by Timmy Allen’s 13 points, on an inefficient 5 of 20 shooting from the floor, plus 0 of 4 from three. Why Timmy shot 4 threes is anybodies guess, but he is no doubt pressing right now with the struggles he’s been having. Bigger, more athletic guys really give him fits, since he plays so close to the ground and below the rim. Utah got a nice 11 points from Brandon Carlson, who has really put together a couple of nice games now, and is starting to develop. Rylan Jones and Riley Battin each had 10 points. Jones struggled, uncharacteristically in the turnover category with 6, while having just 3 assists. Utah was without Both Gach who sat out with a leg injury.

Utah started pretty well, after a flurry of turnovers, they built a 10 point lead early in the game, and did a nice job of keeping USC at bay for a majority of the game. They did a nice job of keeping USC off the offensive glass, except for the one at the end of the game that put the Utes behind for good. Utah actually won the rebounding battle by 2, which was a key for this game. Also, Utah didn’t have a lot of live ball turnovers, so they really kept USC in the half court. They only had 14 turnovers for the entire game, which is right at the max you want to see from a team, but didn’t give the Trojans many open court opportunities.

This game was ugly offensively for both squads. Utah shot just 32% from the floor for the game while USC shot 37%. Utah’s game plan was working well, they just couldn’t consistently put the ball in the basket, which has been a problem the last five games.

The Utes actually had a 9 point lead late in the second half, but that drought kicked in and the Trojans went on a run to take the lead. Utah had chances to take back the lead and win the game, but that late offensive put back by USC was the ultimate nail in the coffin, as Allen was tied up driving to the basket on Utah’s next possession with the arrow favoring USC. Allen’s lack of explosiveness really on display on that play.

I love this team’s grit and moxie, and when they play connected it’s fun to watch. They still need to have a consistent bucket getter, and as it’s now playing out in league play, it’s apparent that that guy is not on the roster as of yet, even as nice of a player as Allen is.

The Utes now move on to UCLA, and will have an extra days rest, as they play Super Bowl Sunday. I’m sure it will be a pretty empty gym for that one.