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Utah Battles Back but Comes Up Just Short 80-77 vs the Ducks - Game Thread

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Instant Reaction and Analysis and Final Thoughts

NCAA Basketball: Utah at Washington Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Game Notes

The Runnin’ Utes had their best performance of the season on Thursday night en route to a critical win to snap a 10 game losing streak and get their first win of 2022. The Utes offense was on fire and their defense was flying all over the court. The Utes had 5 players in double figures as they beat Oregon State 84-59 for an emphatic victory. The Utes have previously been plagued by long scoring droughts and turnovers and on Thursday they only committed 5 turnovers and their offense was clicking the entire night. The Utes will need to be as strong Saturday night as they take on the Oregon Ducks at the Huntsman Center. Oregon’s season was shrouded in disappointment until they defeated the Utes on January 1st 79-66 (after trailing at halftime) and since then have played their way back into the NCAA Tournament conversation. A win for Oregon is critical especially since Oregon was recently listed as one of four last teams in according to ESPN’s latest Bracketology projections. The Running Utes enter the game with a 9-14 record overall and 2-11 in conference play with Both Gach leading the Utes averaging 10 points per game. The Oregon Ducks enter the game with a 14-7 record overall and 7-3 in conference play, Will Richardson leads the Ducks with 14.8 points per game. Tom Chambers will have his jersey honored during tonight’s game. Let’s extend this winning streak and beat the Ducks!

When: Saturday, February 5 at 6:30 pm MT

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

How to Watch: Game Starting on Fox Business channel due to a conflicting event and then switching to FS1 at its conclusion

First Half

16:00- Gabe Madsen is coming out firing to start this game as he has all 9 points for the Utes all from 3 pointers as the Utes lead 9-7. It’s great to see the Running Utes living up to their name as they have been off and running on every Oregon miss and have been quick to take a shot early in the shot clock. Utah’s defense is flying all over the court too which is another positive sign.

11:00- Frantic start to the game as both teams have been eager to transition and score quickly. Oregon has battled back thanks to some easy looks in the paint and they lead 18-16. Rebounding is going to be key as Oregon’s size has led to them having a 10-2 advantage in points in the paint and they are outrebounding the Utes 10-6. The Utes must box out and be aggressive battling to the basketball.

8:00- Critical stretch for the Utes as Oregon is in the midst of a 7-0 run in the last 2 minutes and leads 27-18. Oregon’s size is forcing Utah to take some tough, contested 3 point attempts and they are just not falling. The Utes have to drive to the paint to keep the Ducks honest to open things up on the rest of the floor. The Running Utes need to respond.

6:00- Utah responds with a basket from Both Gach but Oregon quickly responds with two 3’s of their own prompting a quick timeout from Craig Smith. Oregon leads 33-20; the Utes must close the gap entering halftime.

4:00- Poor stretch from both teams and there were about 4 turnovers in a minute of action but Will Richardson takes advantage of a terrible backcourt violation from the Utes and buries a 3 to give the Ducks a 36-24 lead. The Utes desperately need to trim this lead to single digits going into the locker room.

0:00- After a hot start the Utes definitely went cold from the field and Oregon leads Utah 43-31 at the half. The Utes shooting only 39.3% from the field while Oregon is shooting 48.6% from the field and a crazy 63.6% from 3 point range. The Utes are also getting killed on the glass as Oregon is outrebounding Utah 23-14. Will Richardson leads all scorers with 13 points and Gabe Madsen leads the Utes with 11 points (most of his points came in the first 4 minutes of the game). The Utes have to start hitting some shots and slow down the Ducks so they can push the tempo on their end. Important halftime talk from Craig Smith ahead; find a way Utes!

Second Half

16:00- Utah definitely coming out much more physical and attacking the boards in the second half. Oregon still leads 48-39 but the Utes are determined to make a run. Marco Anthony showing a lot of fight as one of the smallest guys on the court coming up with a big offensive rebound leading to an Oregon foul. The Utes will have to continue to grind to cut into this Oregon lead.

11:00- What a great response from the Utes as they have cut the deficit to 5 with a free throw coming from an and 1. The Utes are playing really aggressively on defense and have not allowed many easy shots for the Ducks in the second half. Branden Carlson had a great sequence of events as he had a drive for an emphatic dunk and then hit a trailing 3 to provide a huge spark for Utah. The Utes must continue this run; an important couple of minutes ahead.

8:00- Tough stretch for the Utes as Oregon responds to extend their lead to 65-55 after the Utes had closed the gap. Emotions then reaching a boiling point as Craig Smith hit with a technical foul after the referees allowed some extremely physical play. Will Richardson with 22 points to lead all scorers for the Ducks. Unfortunately, Utah with uncharacteristically poor night from the free line as they are shooting only 56.3%. The Utes must answer Oregon and make a run in the next few minutes.

5:00- Oregon with a big 3 just before the timeout to give the Ducks a 71-57 lead. The Ducks have had an answer all night and have hit 12 3’s on the night as they are shooting 50% from 3 point range. Stefanovic with a quiet night for the Utes as he has only 4 points.

4:00- Marco Anthony electrifying the crowd with a crazy one-handed alley-oop dunk from an inbounds pass and then hitting a tough lay-in but missed the and 1. Utah trails Oregon 71-61; running out of time to make a late charge.

1:00- Terrific fight from the Utes as Gabe Madsen hits a ridiculous 3 and then the Utes force a turnover on a full-court press leading to a layup by Rollie Worster as the Utes trail Oregon 74-71.

Final Thoughts

Heartbreak city tonight in Salt Lake City as Utah battled back from 10 points down with 4 minutes to go to get within 1 point before they had to foul to prolong the game. Ballstaedt comes up just short on a long 3 point attempt at the buzzer and the Utes lose 80-77. Despite the loss it’s clear that Craig Smith has instilled a never say die attitude within this team. There’s absolutely no way this game should have been as close as it was in the final minute but Utah had such an effective full-court press that forced multiple turnovers to get them back in the game and give them a chance at tying the game. Will Richardson led all scorers with 25 points and Gabe Madsen with a late surge led the Utes with 19 points (mostly from 3’s). Field goal percentage, turnovers, and rebounds were all close but shockingly the Utes were undone by their poor free throw percentage in this game as they shot just 65.2% from the free-throw line. The Utes are one of the best free-throw shooting teams in the country but such a tough break that they chose tonight to have an off night. Oregon came into tonight desperately needing a win to maintain their status as a last team in the tournament conversation and they just barely got it done. The Utes will have a full week to regroup as they travel to Colorado next week Saturday.

Next Up: Utah Running Utes @ Colorado Buffaloes Saturday, February 12 at 6 pm MT on the PAC 12 Network