EUGENE, Ore. — Utah's first regular season in the Pac-12 comes to a close Saturday afternoon at Oregon. It comes on the heels of a disappointing early effort at Oregon State two days earlier.
Before a late rally added a cosmetic touch to a 77-67 setback, the Utes found themselves trailing by 31 points with 15:03 remaining.
"It was one of those games where we had a couple of good looks and missed them and then all of a sudden …," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said before noting things did improve down the stretch. "We played the game more of the right way in the second half."
By then, however, it was too late to rewrite the script. The Utes fell to 0-14 away from the Huntsman Center this season, following last week's thrilling win over Stanford with a not-as-close-as-it-looked lopsided loss to the Beavers.
"I think it all falls on us," Utah center Jason Washburn said while explaining that the offense never really found a flow early on and the defense just wasn't there.
The lack of execution, he noted, doesn't add up to success on the road.
"When you're away you've got to play a little harder. You've got to play teams a little tougher," Washburn continued. "Give them a little and they're going to run with it."
Oregon State capitalized on the situation and jumped out to a 36-15 halftime lead, adding to it over the first five minutes of the second half.
Washburn got in early foul trouble and Krystkowiak said the Utes simply didn't have much of a post presence without their only active player taller than 6-foot-6 on the floor.
And there was another big variable as well — a determined Oregon State squad.
"That team lost five games in a row. So it's a little different mindset when they want to get 'off the schneid,'" Krystkowiak said. "You know you're going to see a high energy group and we kind of caved into it in the first half."
The deep deficit proved to be too much to overcome. So much so, as it turned out, that not even a 52-point second half by the Utes made much of a difference.
"It was tough coming back off of that," Hines said of the poor start. "But once we got into a nice offensive groove it really helped us."
The loss assured Utah of the No. 11 seed in next week's Pac-12 Tournament at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The Utes will play in Wednesday's 9:30 p.m. (MT) game against a yet-to-be-determined opponent.
GAME NOTES: Oregon defeated Utah 79-68 in the Huntsman Center on Feb. 2. … The Ducks have three players averaging double figures in scoring — Devoe Joseph (16.7 ppg), E.J. Singler (13.3 ppg) and Garrett Sim (12.3 ppg). … The Utes are scheduled to fly home Sunday and depart for Los Angeles on Monday.
Utes on the air
Utah (6-23, 3-14)
at Oregon (21-8, 12-5)
Saturday, March 3rd, 4 p.m. (MT)
TV: Comcast Sports NW
Radio: 700 AM
UTES HIT THE LANES INSTEAD OF THE COURT
Friday was dedicated to watching film and team building for the Utah Utes. They bonded by going bowling in the afternoon instead of practicing basketball.
"This morning the staff was talking about doing something fun," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said as the Utes approached Saturday's game at Oregon. "With the early game tomorrow and a lot of guys playing a lot of minutes last night, there was not a whole lot we needed to do on the court. It was mostly mental."
— Dirk Facer
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