The Utes remain winless on the road in conference play after a 73-57 loss at UCLA. Riley Battin led the way for Utah on offense with 14 points on 3-of-5 shooting – all in the second half – while Timmy Allen had 13 points, eight assists and seven boards. Rylan Jones finished the game with 11 points of his own to round out the double-digit scoring for Utah. Utah’s poor shooting continues to haunt them, as once again they shot less than 40% for the game from the field. Utah did a lot of good in this game. They battled, played hard, kept UCLA off the boards pretty well (Utah was just -2 in rebounding), and turned the ball over not too much (15). But the inability to continue to put the ball in the basket is hurting.
The Utes really battled for the first 30-35 minutes of the game. UCLA would go on a run to put a bit of distance between the two, and Utah would reel them back in. This really went on all game long. When you have two of your best players shoot 5 of 16 (Allen), and 4 of 13 (Jones), you are just fighting too many empty possessions, especially when it’s inevitable when the opposition will go on a run of their own. That’s really what happened on Saturday, as Utah cut the lead down to 4 points on a barrage of three point shooting, but UCLA just ran a way from there. A 5-0 run from the Bruins saw that deficit for Utah go back to 55-46 at the 7:52 media timeout. After that, a 15-2 run really put the game away, as a once close game turned into a blow out pretty fast.
The Utes now return to the Huntsman, a place where they know they can win. It’s a Thursday/Saturday schedule with Stanford and Cal coming in. Hopefully the Utes can get back a healthy Both Gach, who once again missed the game Sunday. If they can get back a focused Gach, that could help with the playmaking, because Allen and Jones are forcing a bit too much at times.
Here’s some comments from Coach K postgame, from UtahUtes.com
Head Coach Larry Krystkowiak
“You know… the first half there sure was a lid on the rim. I thought that we missed a bunch of open shots and you witnessed it. 1-for-12 from three at halftime and I would say six or seven of them were shots that we were seeking so you know… You saw the start of the second half, I think we hit three threes fairly early on and cut it to a couple possession game and just couldn’t sustain it. I thought the free-throw line was a big key, us only getting there five times. We knew they were an elite team at the free throw line. They put a lot of pressure on you with their size. Rebounding was somewhat of a, you know, wash. We didn’t get pummeled by a good team on the glass, but overall I thought it was just some missing some offensive shots. Certainly we had the first stretch where we had seven turnovers probably on our first 12-13 possessions throwing the ball all over. That kind of creeped in again where we had three-straight possessions on post feed or passes through the post and then the one at half court. I mean you just can’t… The margin of error I think is too slim for a team like this to throw the ball away.”