Utah basketball: Offensive rebounding, two droughts were key in Utes' loss to No. 1 Arizona
SALT LAKE CITY — Larry Krystkowiak’s postgame comments after Utah's 65-56 loss to No. 1 Arizona on Sunday night started off in a whisper and eventually progressed to a gravelly rasp.
The third-year Ute coach had been battling a cold for a few days, and he wasn’t feeling any better after his team lost yet another road game — its sixth in six tries this year — although at least this one came against the No. 1 team in the country.
Krystkowiak wasn’t distraught by the loss and said there were “a lot of positive signs” in the nine-point defeat on the road. The Utes weren’t intimidated by the sellout crowd of 14,545, as they jumped out to a 12-2 lead and led as late as the 11-minute mark of the second half.
However, two things that disappointed Krystkowiak were the offensive rebounding edge the Wildcats enjoyed (20-9) and two five-minute droughts the Utes had, one in each half where they were outscored by a 24-0 total. One happened from the 12:55 mark to the 7:39 mark of the first half, and the other came between the 11:04 mark and the 6:50 mark of the second half. In each case, Arizona outscored Utah 12-0.
“We had a five-minute period (in the second half) when the game was close and we forced shots that weren’t really our kind of shots,’’ said Krystkowiak. “A couple of turnovers, ill-advised shots, self-inflicted a little bit down the stretch when we got away from what put us in that position. All of a sudden we’re going to try to go on our own and be the star of the game and it backfired.’’
Delon Wright was the Utes’ most solid player Sunday, scoring a game-high 19 points and adding six rebounds, four assists, three steals and a blocked shot. Jordan Loveridge scored 13 points, but only managed 1-for-7 shooting in the second half.
While Krystkowiak called the loss “disheartening,’’ he also said his players aren’t getting down on themselves as they reach the halfway point of the Pac-12 season this week.
“Nobody’s interested in the sob stories about losing close games and being fragile and 'coulda, shoulda, woulda,'" he said. “All that fragile stuff is out the window. We’ve got a group of kids that’s turning into men and hopefully we’ll learn from what we’ve gone through up to this point.’’
Utah now turns its attention to a game against Colorado, which has lost four of its last five games, all by double digits.
“It won’t be tough to get in the mindset for our upcoming game against (Colorado),’’ Wright said. “They’re down right now and that’s a great opportunity for us to steal a win. We’ll be good mentally. After a week of practice we’ll be great.
“We have to get ready for Colorado,’’ said Dakarai Tucker, who scored 10 points Sunday. “This game is over and we’re going to start out new.''
UTE NOTES: Dallin Bachynski got his second start of the season and pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds and had three blocked shots. He scored four points on 2-of-5 shooting from the field. ... Because of Arizona’s overall length, 5-foot-10 sophomore guard Brandon Taylor didn’t play much Sunday night, registering a season-low 14 minutes and going scoreless for the first time all season. He also had two assists and a team-high three turnovers. ... In Taylor’s place the Utes went with 6-6 freshman Kenneth Ogbe, who scored six points on 2-of-3 shooting from 3-point range in 23 minutes. ... Also seeing action at the off-guard spot for six minutes was freshman Parker Van Dyke, who didn’t play Thursday at Arizona State. ... Senior forward Renan Lenz, who suffered a badly sprained ankle at Washington State, saw his first action in two weeks. He only played two minutes and had all zeros on his stat line. ... After Saturday’s game in Colorado, which starts at noon, the Utes return home to play Washington and Washington State the following week.
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