It was deja vu of the Oregon game for much of the night, Sunday night against Oregon State. Utah came out of the game sluggish and dug themselves a hole against the Beavers, and seemed like they couldn't get out of their own way with 6 turnovers. While Utah was rather good on defense, the offense for most of the night seemed confused, lost and totally inept. Before you could really blink OSU was up 11-2, then 24-10, and they kept the Utes at that double digit deficit for the entire first half. Oregon State held Utah to 7-of-21 shooting in the first half, and just 2-of-12 from the three point line. And also like the Oregon game, Utah got themselves to the free throw line in the first half, but unlike the Oregon game, Utah converted those free throws by going 7-of-9.
The second half seemed like it was going to follow the same script of the Oregon game, as well. Utah came out with a renewed sense of energy and purpose, and cut the lead down to a 4 point game after a flurry of stops on defense, plus some easy baskets from Jakob Poeltl, Kyle Kuzma and Lorenzo Bonam. Again, like the Oregon game, OSU had a mini-run of their own to jump back to a double digit lead. Where this game really started to take on a personality all its own, is that on defense the Utes started to lock in and hold Oregon State down offensively. OSU didn't have any turnovers in the first half, where Utah forced them into 9 in the second half. This helped Utah stay just close enough and buy time for the offensive side of the ball to start to kick in. Utah's defense helped them hold Oregon State to just 36% shooting in the second half, 42% for the game. The offense started to come to life at about the 9 minute mark of the second half, when Utah went on a 20-4 run. Utah struggled all night from the three, but hey got some timely ones to help tie the game, with a couple from Jordan Loveridge and Dakari Tucker, both of whom have been struggling mightily.
As Utah was completing their furious comeback, frustrations started to mount for the Beavers, specifically their big man Jarmal Reid. With just under three minutes remaining in the game, Reid got a rebound off of a Poeltl miss, the two big men got tied up and Reid went to the floor with the basketball (which probably should have been a
That play gave Utah and Brandon Taylor two free throws, where Taylor hit one and gave Utah their first lead of the night, and they never looked back. From that point on it was a free throw game for Utah, and unlike a couple games in the past (Stanford), Utah came through from the charity stripe to put the game away.
While it wasn't pretty, it was a win, and a win that the team desperately needed, to avoid dropping to 1-4 in conference play. The Utes
For the Utes, they managed to somewhat salvage a home stand with a split with the Oregon schools. Next up is a trip to Washington to take on both the Cougars and the Huskies.
Here is some post game audio from Coach K, Dakari Tucker and Jakob Poeltl: