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Utah Loses to USC 79-67: A Game Thread & Recap

Instant Analysis and Reaction and Final Thoughts

NCAA Basketball: UCLA at Utah Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Game Notes:

Utah is in the midst of a seven-game losing streak. The last two games have been absolute heartbreakers as the Utes lost to Arizona State on the road on a floater with 4.6 seconds left in the game. Utah then had a couple of chances against #9 UCLA to tie the game but just couldn’t hit a 3 when it counted the most and ended up losing 63-58. The Utes have been extremely competitive against two top #25 ranked teams in the last three games. Despite the losses (and the seven-game losing streak), the Utes are beginning to find their identity and haven’t lost their fight or desire despite their overall record. Things don’t get easier as the Utes entertain the #16 USC Trojans at the Huntsman Center. The crowd was great Thursday night, and even Lazar Stefanovic commented on how the team fed off the noise throughout the night. The Utes will be looking for another rowdy crowd to give them the edge and finally end this losing streak. The Utes enter the contest with an 8-11 record overall and 1-8 in conference play. The #16 USC Trojans enter the contest with a 15-2 record overall and 5-2 in conference play. After losing their previous game to a surging Oregon Ducks team, USC beat the Colorado Buffaloes on the road Thursday night 61-58. Isaiah Mobley leads the Trojans with 15.1 points per game. The Utes had a balanced offensive attack on Thursday night and will need another strong performance from their bench if they are going to knock off the Trojans at home. Special note that the Utes will be honoring Wat Misaka with a jersey ceremony during this game. Let’s pack the Huntsman and help the Utes end this losing streak.

When: Saturday, January 22nd at 4:30 pm MT

Where: Jon M. Huntsman Center (Salt Lake City, UT)

How to Watch: PAC 12 Network

First Half:

14:00- Solid start for the Utes as they lead 11-8. Stefanovic picking up where he left off Thursday night with 4 points to lead the Utes. The Utes are shooting 57.1% early and have had good ball movement to get some good looks early. Great to see Jaxon Brenchley getting some game time early after his 8 point effort against UCLA.

12:00- After a solid start the Utes have gone the last two minutes without scoring (something that has plagued Utah during this losing streak). Meanwhile, USC is in the midst of an 8-0 run and leads the Utes 16-11. The Utes are attempting shots far too quickly in the shot clock and need to slow the game down and get better looks from the field.

8:00- Tough stretch for both teams as the Utes went 4 minutes without a field goal and the Trojans went 3 minutes without scoring. However, the Trojans able to take advantage by finding some good looks in the lane and after an offensive rebound and putback for the Trojans Craig Smith takes a quick timeout as USC has built its largest lead of the game. USC leads 22-14. The Utes are now shooting 33.1% and are in desperate need of someone to take over offensively. The Utah defense hasn’t been too bad but USC has been taking advantage from 3 point range as they are shooting a blistering 57.1%.

5:00- Another devastating scoring drought for the Utes as Utah hasn’t scored for the last nearly 5 minutes of the game. USC now leads 29-14. Craig Smith is substituting at every opportunity and you wonder If that has had an impact on Utah finding some rhythm on both ends of the floor.

4:00- Gabe Madsen doing everything he can to keep Utah in it in the first half as he has hit two 3 pointers in the last few minutes including one as the shot clock expired and practically falling into the USC bench. USC leads Utah 33-20. Rebounds right now are killing the Utes as the Trojans have outrebounded the Utes 19-10 and are getting a number of second-chance baskets. This is a critical couple of minutes for the Utes and you really feel they need to get this game to single digits heading into halftime.

2:00- YES! Utah responds despite USC having several attempts from close range and they turn it into points on the offensive end. Utah trails 33-25 and USC is forced to take a timeout. Great response from the Utes.

0:00- What a response!?!?!? Gabe Madsen where have you been all my life?!?!? Gabe Madsen hits another 3 falling into the Trojans bench and Utah ends the second half with a great run of their own to only trail USC 35-30. Gabe Madsen comes off the bench to lead the Utes with 11 points while Boogie Ellis leads the Trojans with 12 points. USC with more turnovers as they have 7 to Utah’s 3. This first half could have been so much worse but thanks to Gabe Madsen Utah is right back in the game. Regardless of the losing streak, the Utes have never stopped fighting. The Utes were down at one point by 15 points but just kept chipping away despite a lengthy scoring drought. Get after it Utes, let’s end this losing streak!

Second Half:

16:00- Utah and USC trading baskets early in the second half and USC manages to extend their lead 44-36. The Utes got it to within 3 before USC hit a few key shots and the Utes couldn’t convert. Boogie Ellis had to sit in the first half after getting two fouls so it would be huge for the Utes to force him to sit if they can get him in foul trouble again in this half. The Utes definitely need to tighten up on defense if they are going to close the gap.

13:00- That was a tough couple of minutes. USC goes off and the Utes struggle to make a basket from near-point blank range. USC with their largest lead 54-38. It feels as though the last couple of heartbreaking losses are starting to take a toll on the Utes as they are just struggling to respond to the far more aggressive Trojans. USC has been killing us all night with their 3’s and that continues to be the trend in the first 7 minutes of the second half.

12:00- Utah not losing their fight as they go on a little run of their own and cut the lead to 56-43 prompting a quick timeout from Andy Enfield. Let’s go Utah, fight fight fight!

8:00- Utah and USC again continuing to trade baskets and Utah narrowly closes the gap but has a lot of work left to do. USC leads 61-49.

4:00- Extremely tough break as Utah has kept fighting and narrowed the Trojan lead to 8; on a made basket Utah implemented a full-court press and the refs somehow missed an obvious travel which ultimately led to an alley oop dunk on the other end for USC. Drew Peterson has torched the Utes in the second half and has hit a few big 3’s in the second to extend USC’s lead to 73-59.

Final Thoughts:

We all knew this was going to be a tough stretch for the Utes and after a few close losses the Utes just couldn’t keep up with the physical play from USC. The Utes were forced to take some desperation 3’s in the closing minutes and then attempted to foul in an effort to get back into the game but it was all in a losing effort as USC beat Utah 79-67. Drew Peterson led all scorers for the Trojans with 23 points and Gabe Madsen single handedly kept the Utes in the game when they were in danger of getting blown out and had 20 points in the loss. The Trojans shot 50.9% overall compared to 36.1% for the Utes. Second chance points and rebounds hurt the Utes on multiple occasions as the Utes struggled to get solid defensive stops in critical moments (Utes outrebounded 42-31). USC’s largest lead was 18 but multiple times the Utes kept fighting but just couldn’t dig themselves out of the deep hole. The loss is now the 8th straight loss for the Utes. The Utes will head to Washington as they look to end the losing streak Wednesday night.

Next Up: Utah @ Washington State at 8 pm MT on the PAC 12 Network