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Utah drops to UCLA at home

NCAA Basketball: Utah at Oregon Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Utes couldn’t overcome another sluggish offensive effort, turnovers, and some painful missed calls by the officials on Thursday night against UCLA. The Utes were led by Brandon Carlson out of the gate, who was competing with UCLA by himself for pretty much the entire first half, when he wasn’t in foul trouble at least. Carlson had 8 of his 10 points in the first half of the first half, and in half where the Utes only had 21 points, that was a big deal. He was sat down with about 9 minutes remaining in that opening half with three fouls. He would foul at in this game, but you continue to see him develop.

The first half was just ugly, as illustrated with those 21 points. The Utes were pretty flat, seemingly disorganized, and just couldn’t get things going. The Utes turned the ball over nine times in the opening half, which gave UCLA 11 points. The Utes were also 0 of 5 from beyond the arc, which is too few attempts from deep. All-in-all a half to forget.

The second half didn’t start much better, as UCLA built almost a 20 point lead right away. Really, the Utes didn’t start to battle until late in the game as the intensity and sense of urgency turned up when the hill was just too much to climb. Alphonso Plummer really gave the Utes a shot in the arm, as he showed his scoring ability by leading the team with 16 points. He was one of the main reasons the Utes cut the UCLA lead to 7 points late in the game. Utah turned up the defensive heat and forced a lot of UCLA turnovers in a full court press, giving Utah a bit of a shot, but a shot that never got closer than those 7 points. Timmy Allen turned it up in the second half too, with his 11 points, but his lack of a jump shot is really hurting him, as defenses are just sitting back waiting on him to drive the lane.

Far too often the Utes were waiting on each other to make the play or shoot the ball. It was really striking how timid the Utes were on offense at times, and when they started to attack in the second half, they were able to cut into the lead. It’s in games and moments like this that we need to see Rylan Jones takes control. He only had 5 points on 4 shots. Jones needs to shoot the ball more than four times, period. He needs to be the head of the snake for the Utes, and if he’s not aggressive, then it’s going to be tough.

Now Utah turns to USC on Sunday, and they are really reeling now, as the Huntsman has been the one place Utah could find answers. Nothing is really working right now for Utah, as they search for answers, and search for someone that can help score the ball. Utah is heading toward the end of the season, and it looks like the post season picture is pretty bleak at this point. They need to maximize every game and practice they have left to continue development, as it’s obvious that is much needed moving forward.