Utah basketball: Utes feel they played well even in a loss
Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
PROVO — Utah coach Jim Boylen said he was proud of his guys and how they played in Saturday's 72-59 loss to seventh-ranked BYU.
"We're measured by wins and losses at this level," Boylen said. "As a coach, you can't always do that."
At 10-15 overall and 3-8 in Mountain West Conference games, the Utes are looking for silver linings after suffering five straight setbacks.
In his postgame remarks, Boylen told reporters about something he learned from former Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich.
"Rudy-T taught me a long time ago, just don't evaluate whether you won or lost. Evaluate the film, make your team better," Boylen said. "Because you can win and not be getting better, OK, and you can lose and be getting better. So that's what we'll do. We'll evaluate this film and we'll grow and we'll get better."
The next chance comes Wednesday when the Utes play host to Wyoming (9-16, 2-9). It'll usher in a season-ending five-game stretch that includes road games at New Mexico and Colorado State, as well as home dates against TCU and UNLV.
The schedule is a far cry from last week when the Utes faced a pair of top 10 teams away from the Huntsman Center.
"You can breathe a little bit," acknowledged Utah center David Foster. "But at the same time we've got to play with that same intensity the last few games that we have."
Utah played BYU to a 48-48 standstill until Jimmer Fredette made a jumper with 9:17 remaining to usher in a 14-0 run by the Cougars. Fredette, the nation's leading scorer, accounted for the first 12. He wound up with 23, all but eight came in the decisive run and after.
Fredette wound up making just 7-of-19 shots from the field. The senior was 16-of-28 when the teams met in Salt Lake City on Jan. 11. He netted 47 points that night.
Foster credits the defense of J.J. O'Brien and the wings for using their size to bother Fredette.
Defending Jimmer that way was part of a game plan that included controlling the tempo by slowing things down.
The Utes, though, weren't as successful in other aspects of the game. As such, they could keep pace with the Cougars.
"The difference in the game was we turned the ball over, we didn't get to the line and we missed a lot of open shots," Boylen said.
Utah finished with 17 turnovers, shot just eight free throws (making four) and connected on only 43.9 percent of its attempts from the field.
Even so, the Utes left the Marriott Center looking at the positive.
"As a whole, I think we played really well. We competed, we fought and we followed the game plan," said Foster, who noted they just gave up too many points in transition. "We fought hard. Coach said he was proud of us. We're going to keep fighting."
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