SALT LAKE CITY — All year long, Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak has complained about his team’s penchant for turnovers. Against USC on Saturday, the Utes only had six turnovers — less than half their season average.
So Krystkowiak must have been doing cartwheels after the game, right?
Uh, not exactly.
Turnovers were about the only thing Krystkowiak didn’t have to grumble about in a 76-59 loss — Utah’s first double-digit defeat of the season — when just about everything else went wrong.
Where should one begin?
• Utah came in as the seventh-best defensive field goal percentage team in the nation at 35.4 percent, but allowed the Trojans to shoot 50 percent from the field.
• The Utes were allowing opponents just 30 percent shooting from 3-point range, but allowed the Trojans to shoot 46.7 percent.
• Despite coming in as the ninth-best free-throw shooting team in the nation at 76.9 percent, the Utes only managed 61 percent and missed six in a four-minute stretch late in the game when they were threatening to get back in it.
• The Utes shot poorly from the field (37.5 percent) and from 3-point range (26.7 percent).
• Despite outrebounding opponents by 6 per game this year, the Utes were outboarded 39-30.
All that added up to a 17-point loss against the team with the worst overall record in the Pac-12 Conference.
Krystkowiak was disappointed in his team’s overall lack of aggressiveness and acknowledged that the coaches’ strategy of leaving the Trojans open from outside backfired.
“They don’t have great shooters and part of our game plan was we were going to keep the ball out of the paint,’’ Krystkowiak said. “I don’t know if that message got misconstrued with us not playing hard enough. It was almost like we needed to approach this game like they were great shooters, so we could be out on them. There were some possessions early in the half where we dared some guys to shoot. When those shots go in, it was hard to deal with.’’
As for Utah’s poor free-throw shooting, which included Justin Seymour and Cedric Martin each missing both shots on two-shot fouls late in the game, Krystkowiak didn’t have an answer.
“It’s been one of our strong points,’’ he said. “Who knows what’s going on in someone’s mind, but to miss that many in a row is really rare for our team. It just solidifies the fact that some of the things we’ve depended on this year weren’t there for us tonight.’’