Utah Utes basketball: Hope of a fresh start turns to 'embarrassing'

Published: Saturday, Dec. 31 2011 11:31 p.m. MST

Cliff Grassmick, Associated Press, Cliff Grassmick, Associated Press

BOULDER, Colo. — Saturday's Pac-12 opening game was supposed to be a fresh start for the Utah basketball team after a dismal bunch of non-conference games in November and December.

So where does the University of Utah basketball team go after losing by 40 points, 73-33 Saturday to a Colorado team picked to finish just ahead of the Utes in the Pac-12 this year?

Maybe coach Larry Krystkowiak can use another new beginning theme now that it's a new year as of today.

Krystkowiak didn't want to say Saturday's loss at the Coors Events Center was the rock bottom point for the Utes, although he did admit it was embarrassing.

"Embarrassing is a good word," he said. "We just got manhandled in all elements of the game."

Just how bad was it Saturday?

Consider that the Utes hadn't scored fewer points since a 32-26 loss to Wyoming in 1947. The last time they even finished a game in the 30s was in 1976. And that was a win over New Mexico, when the Lobos stalled most of the second half.

The Utes tied the modern record for fewest field goals (12) in the game thanks to a basket by George Matthews with eight seconds left in the game.

Utah's 11 first-half points were the lowest in modern history since the time they stopped doing a jump ball after every basket.

The Utes' 22.6 field goal percentage was the worst on record, eclipsing a 25.3 shooting performance against Wyoming in 1969.

Utah's 8.7 percent from 3-point range was the lowest ever with 15 attempts or more.

Shall we go on? Please stop already.

In a word, Utah's performance Saturday was abysmal.

No wonder a fan in the stands urged the Utes to "throw in the towel" with 14 minutes left and the Utes trailing 45-15. If this was a fight, they would have stopped it long before then.

No wonder, the normally soft-spoken Kystkowiak could be heard clear down the hall from the Ute locker room screaming at his team in an expletive-filled tirade.

You knew the Utes were in trouble, when a mere five seconds into the game, Spencer Dinwiddie was left wide open on the left angle for a 3-pointer, which he drained.

From there, the Utes actually played pretty good defense the rest of the half, daring the Buffaloes to try 3-pointers, which isn't the best part of their game.

The problem was, the Utes couldn't hit a thing themselves and were 5 of 25 from the field and 1 of 11 from 3-point range for just 11 points.

Krystkowiak said before the game he would have been thrilled to be told Colorado would score only 27 points the first half.

"Defensively in the first half we weren't that far off," he said. "But the game got away from us in the second half."

The lead quickly reached 30 early in the second half and for awhile you wondered if the Utes might break the modern record for lowest points in a game set by Rick Majerus' Saint Louis team in 47-20 loss to George Washington in 2008.

But two free throws by Josh Watkins, who had a poor game with four points on 1 of 12 shooting, put the Utes above the 20-point mark with 9:30 left.

The lead got as high as 42 when little-used reserve Beau Webb sank a 3-pointer for Colorado in the final minute.

Dinwiddie led the Buffaloes with 19 points after outscoring the Utes 16 to 11 in the first half, while Andre Roberson had 17 points and 17 rebounds, After getting just three points in the first half, Carlon Brown finished with 10 points on the night.

Utah was led by 10 points and seven rebounds from Jason Washburn, who said afterward, "It was one of those days where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. But it seems like we were able to control most of it, so that puts it on us."

Next up is Washington State Thursday night.

email: sor@desnews.com

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