Utah basketball: Runnin' Utes come up just short in loss to Boise State
BOISE — Going into Tuesday night’s game at Taco Bell Arena, only 21 of the 351 Division I college basketball teams in America were still undefeated. So when 6-0 Utah squared off with 6-0 Boise State, something had to give.
Unfortunately for the Utes, they were the ones who went home with a loss as the Broncos took a 69-67 victory in a spirited game before 7,151 fans.
The Utes fought back from a seven-point halftime deficit and led with less than two minutes left, but made too many mistakes down the stretch in suffering their first defeat of the season.
The Utes were outrebounded 32-28 and allowed the Broncos to get some big offensive rebounds in the final minutes. They also made just 8 of 15 free throws, including five misses in the final 10 minutes that could have made a difference.
“This was a great college environment and I was really pleased with how we responded with fire in the second half,’’ said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “It’s a real fine line and we missed a couple of blockouts and certainly you can’t shoot 50 percent from the line. It’s the little things, but those are the things you need to win on the road.’’
Jordan Loveridge led the Utes with 19 points, including 16 in the second half after getting shall we say a “pep talk” from his coach in the locker room. Delon Wright had another big night with 15 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and four steals, but he’ll remember one of his four turnovers in the final seconds the most.
The Utes trailed 67-66 with 28 seconds left when Boise State's Derrick Marks missed the first of a one-and-one. Wright grabbed the rebound and dribbled downcourt, but lost the ball out of bounds when he was surrounded by Bronco players. It didn’t help that the Utes were out of timeouts.
After Marks, who led the Broncos with 17 points, made a pair of free throws, Wright was fouled with 5.5 seconds left. But he missed the first and made the second, leaving the Utes down two.
The Utes had still one more chance after Jeff Elorriaga missed two free throws with 3.8 seconds left, but Loveridge tried a shot from beyond midcourt, saying he shot early hoping to get fouled.
Lost in the disappointing defeat was the outstanding play of Kenneth Ogbe, the 6-foot-6 freshman from Germany, who came off the bench in the second half to hit three 3-pointers and get a steal and a key assist. Ogbe scored nine points in 16 minutes.
“He was huge and made big shots,’’ said Krystkowiak. “I like his length and the more comfortable he is in his role, we will continue to integrate him more in the lineup.’’
Utah had won every game this year by double digits, but this was their first big test in their first road contest of the year.
After a sluggish first half, the Utes came back to lead 55-51 with just more than eight minutes left before the Broncos reeled off eight straight points to take the lead at 59-55.
The Utes rallied to tie the game at 63, thanks to a steal by Wright and an assist to Brandon Taylor for a layup. After a basket by Marks, Loveridge scored a 3-pointer to put the Utes ahead 66-65 with 1:42 left.
But Marks, who sat out much of the second half in foul trouble, made the go-ahead basket with 46 seconds left.
You couldn’t tell these were two of the top-scoring teams in the country (Boise State ranked No. 1, Utah No. 7) in a low-scoring first half.
The Broncos took a 32-25 lead into the locker room thanks to a late run, as they outscored the Utes 12-2 over the final five minutes.
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