Utah basketball: Lack of defense hurt Utes in loss to Arizona State
Ross D. Franklin, AP
TEMPE, Ariz. — The frustration was clearly evident as Utah basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak spoke to the media in a hoarse voice just outside the Utes’ locker room Thursday night.
The Utes had just lost their fifth game of the year, all on the road and all by four points or less. In this one, the Utes led throughout the first half, by as many as nine points, but couldn’t stop the Sun Devils, particularly point guard Jahii Carson, in the second half of a 79-75 loss.
Two days earlier, Krystkowiak talked about how his offense had caught up with the defense and he was concerned that the defense might be backsliding a bit. That’s exactly what happened in Thursday night’s defeat.
“It was pretty identifiable what happened,’’ said Krystkowiak. “We shot ourselves in the foot because our coverage wasn’t right. We got ourselves in scramble mode a couple of times and ran out of steam on some rotations. The difference was them hitting some shots in the last couple of minutes and us not.’’
Early in the game, the Utes were playing better on both sides of the ball when they took a 28-19 lead.
“I thought we did a really nice job of pushing the tempo, but that’s because we're getting stops,’’ the Ute coach said. “We lost some of our offensive push when we were taking the ball out of the basket.’’
After shooting 58.3 percent in the first half, the Utes fell off to 38.7 percent in the second. Conversely, the Sun Devils improved from 48.1 percent in the first half to 59.1 percent in the second half, finishing at 53.1 percent for the game.
“When we’re going to get good is when we can put the whole package together on both sides of the ball,’’ said Krystkowiak. “I always use the analogy of football. One side can’t be stronger than the other. Tonight we would have had to score a lot of points to win.’’
Now it’s on to Tucson, where the Utes will play the No. 1-ranked team in the nation, Arizona, which defeated Colorado 69-57 Thursday night.
FOULED UP: Earlier this year, the Utes were ranked No. 1 in the country for fewest fouls per game and they came into Thursday’s game ranked No. 15 for fewest fouls.
However, they were in foul trouble from the get-go Thursday, nearly reaching their season average of 15 by halftime and finishing with a season-high 25 on the night.
Although some Ute fans might have been unhappy with some of the calls they got in the road game, Krystkowiak said the Utes had no one to blame but themselves.
“We had three or four really dumb fouls in the first half,’’ he said, pointing to a foul against Jordan Bachynski when he “karate-chopped him from behind’’ and Princeton Onwas fouling a player 30 feet away from the basket “like he was at the YMCA.”
“It was almost like we were trying to foul,’’ he said. “It’s already hard enough to defend them without fouling and then when you have dumb ones, it magnifies the problem. Some of that we can control for sure. We have to be a little smarter.’’
STATS FIASCO: The statistics fiasco at Thursday night’s game at Arizona State was due to using an improper Ute roster that included three players from last year’s team. Since stats are programmed according to the rosters, the stats couldn’t be corrected once the game started.
The Arizona State sports information department folks had to go through the entire tape after the game to re-do the official statistics and a copy was finally sent to the media at 12:15 a.m., three hours after the game ended.
BACHYNSKI BATTLE: Because final stats weren’t available right after the game, we couldn’t give an accurate comparison of the battle between Bachynski brothers, Dallin and Jordan.
So here it is:
Older brother Jordan of Arizona State finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds in 33 minutes, while Dallin had six points and six rebounds in 24 minutes. Jordan shot 2-of-5 from the field and 7-of-8 from the line, while Dallin was 2-of-6 from the field and 2-of-3 from the line. Jordan also had four blocked shots, just under his nation-leading average, while Dallin had none.
UTE NOTES: Attendance at Thursday’s game was 7,689 ... Renan Lenz who sprained his left ankle against Washington State two weeks ago, has been practicing with the team and is expected to play Sunday. He didn’t play Thursday when the Utes could have used him inside as both Bachynski and Jeremy Olsen both had four fouls ... The Utes shot just 15-of-22 from the foul line ... Delon Wright scored 21 points, but had a rough night handling the ball with just two assists and a season-high six turnovers ... The Utes had just eight assists on the night, led by Brandon Taylor with four ... The Utes were outrebounded 33 to 30.
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