After yet another disappointing trip to the state of Oregon with losses to Oregon State and Oregon within the span of two days, the Utes will return to the friendly confines of the Jon M. Huntsman Center, hoping to turn things around. Utah hosts the Washington Huskies at 7:30 pm MT on the PAC 12 Network. The Utes are coming off a two-game losing streak after falling to the Beavers 88-76 and then again to the Ducks 79-66 on Saturday night. Utah is 8-6 overall with a 1-3 record in conference play. Meanwhile, on Monday night, the Huskies are coming off a 95-79 loss at Arizona. Washington is 5-6 overall with an 0-1 record in conference play. Washington has had one game (vs. Gonzaga) canceled and another postponed (UCLA). The Utes should once again have a relatively healthy lineup available as they will be missing Boystyn Holt for the season and Dusan Mohorcic until mid-January. Still, Craig Smith is optimistic he could return sooner than that. This will be an interesting game as Utah was picked to finish #10th in pre-season PAC 12 rankings, and Washington was picked #11th.
15:00- Washington gets off to a hot start with a quick 5-0 lead but the Utes tighten up on defense and scrape together a few baskets and trail the Huskies 5-4. Neither team setting the world on fire as the Huskies are shooting 25% from the field compared to 22.2% for the Utes.
12:00- As we head into the second media timeout the Utes already have 5 turnovers to 1 for the Huskies. This will be a key stat as the game goes especially since turnovers have been wreaking havoc on the team this season. Last week the Utes committed over 20 turnovers on the road at Oregon State. The Utes will have to protect the ball if they are going to win tonight. The Utes trail 11-10.
10:00- Craig Smith clearly unhappy as he subs all 5 players; you don’t see that often.
8:00- After making 5 changes on the previous timeout it has clearly lit a fire under the Utes as they now take the lead 20-18. Excellent news as Dusan Mahorcic makes his first appearance since November 27th after an early injury against BYU. Lazar Stefanovic leads the Utes with 5 points.
5:00- Craigh Smith is fired up and is showing some love to the team after that timeout. Utah leads 27-21. Gabe Madsen has made his introduction with 6 points off the bench.
0:00- Tough way to end the half as the Utes should have had the final shot but they turn it over for the 11th time tonight and Washington hits a 3 at the buzzer. Utah had better ball movement in the final 5 minutes of the half and leads 37-33. Utah shooting 45.5% from the field as the Huskies shoot 41.2%. The Utes have a significant advantage on the glass as they are outrebounding the Huskies 28-13. If the Utes can protect the ball we should have the edge. Let’s get this Utah!
16:00- The Utes are starting to open it up and now lead 42-33. Washington has started the half 0-4 prompting a timeout in an effort to regroup. It is important to note that Washington had 8 steals in the first half and have 1 early in the second. Limiting turnovers and steals will be key for Utah in the second half to put this game away.
11:00- An interesting couple of minutes. Utah led 50-36 until Washington went on a 7-0 run to make it 50-43. Washington then slowly chips but Utah still leads 54-48. Utah continues to dominate on the boards with a 36-17 advantage but Washington now has 11 steals and Utah has turned it over 16 times. The game really shouldn’t be this close but Utah continues to allow the Huskies back into the game.
8:00- What in the world is going on??? Washington is right back in the game and only trails 55-54. The Utes are the best free-throw shooting team in the conference but tonight are shooting 55.6% on 5-9 free throws. We need to tighten up because Utah is in serious jeopardy of losing this one. Let’s go Utah!
4:00- Washington has now gone on a 7-0 run in the last 1:30 and incredibly the Huskies lead 65-59. The Utes have 18 turnovers so far this half and are shooting 5-11 from the free-throw line. The Utes have just struggled down the stretch in games and it’s happening again tonight. The Utes will need better ball movement and tougher defense if they are going to come back.
1:00- Unbelievable, the Utes are showing some major heart and have cut the lead to 68-65. Washington led by 9 but the Utes have hit some big shots to close the gap. We need this one, Go Utah!
This one is going to hurt. The Utes led in the second half at one time by 14 points before Washington stormed back and took a 9 point lead. The Utes fought back but it was just too little too late. The Utes were forced to foul and Washington was able to hit some clutch free throws to put the game away as Washington beat the Utes 74-68. Once again inconsistency plagued the Utes as they turned it over 19 times. Washington finished the game with 13 steals and the Utes (best free-throw shooting team in the conference) shot a dismal 63.6% from the free-throw line. The Utes must take better care of the basketball and eliminate the turnovers if they are going to win games.
Next Up: Saturday 1/8 Washington State @ Utah 5 pm MT on the PAC 12 Network.