We play not to lose, and we have to play to win... —Utah guard Jarred DuBois
SALT LAKE CITY — Although the Utah Utes have already surpassed last season’s win total, things could of been even better as the men's basketball team wraps up non-conference play Friday night at home against the College of Idaho (Pac-12 Networks, 7:30 p.m.).
Utah’s 7-4 record includes three setbacks where the Utes squandered double-digit leads with poor second halves. In losses to Sacramento State, BYU and Cal State Northridge, the Utes have been outscored by an average of 15 points over the final 20 minutes — shooting 33 percent from the field (25-of-80) and only 23 percent from 3-point range (8-of-35).
The latest shortcoming was a 76-71 decision to Cal State Northridge Dec. 21 in the Huntsman Center. After racing out to a 48-27 halftime advantage, the Utes suffered a second-half drought — including 13 straight misses and a stretch of more than nine minutes without a basket — that allowed the Matadors to come back and prevail.
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak acknowledged it was “really disheartening” and not how they wanted to go on Christmas break.
“We have to execute better and put an end to those long droughts,” Krystkowiak said. “The mindset is what we have to fight through. We have to get tougher and make shots when they’re open.”
Senior guard Jarred DuBois noted there’s work to be done as the Utes gear up for the opening of Pac-12 play next month.
“We can’t take our foot off the gas. We have to take wins,” DuBois said. “No one is going to give us a game. We haven’t earned that right.”
The key, he added, is getting stops. That will lead to easy baskets on offense.
“We play not to lose, and we have to play to win,” DuBois continued. “We are looking at the clock and we can’t afford to do that. When we went out and took the win in games this year, we earned the result.”
Extras: College of Idaho is an NAIA school from Caldwell ... true freshman Jordan Loveridge had a career-high 24 points in the loss to Cal State Northridge . . . DuBois leads the Utes with 14.1 points and 3.6 assists per game. Loveridge is the top rebounder with 7.4 per game ... With a minimum of 20 games left to play, senior Jason Washburn is 220 points away from becoming the 35th player in team history to score 1,000 in his career ... Utah opens Pac-12 play Jan. 2 at Arizona State and Jan. 5 at Arizona.
College of Idaho (7-8) at Utah (7-4)
Friday, 7:30 p.m.
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Radio: ESPN 700AM