Utah basketball: Utes come up short on the road — again

Published: Saturday, Feb. 1 2014 4:45 p.m. MST

Utah's Delon Wright (55) works the ball past Colorado's Askia Booker, center, as Utah's Brandon Taylor sets a pick during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/The Daily Camera, Cliff Grassmick) NO SALES

Cliff Grassmick, AP

BOULDER, Colo. — Saturday’s 79-75 overtime loss at Colorado makes it 10 for the Utah Utes. Not a perfect 10, mind you. Nothing that would make Bo Derek fret.

This 10 is all about Pac-12 road losses. The Utes’ skid has now reached double figures, a streak that dates back to a 74-65 win at Washington on Jan. 19, 2013. Overall, Utah is 1-22 in conference games on opposing home floors since joining the Pac-12 in 2011-12.

The latest setback, though, proved to be an especially tough one. Utah had a 12-point lead in the second half. The Utes also hit a dramatic 3-pointer near the end of regulation to force overtime.

In the end none of it mattered. The bottom line was the bottom line.

While noting the difference in the game, Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak lamented a 42-24 rebounding deficit and a distinct imbalance at the free-throw line — Colorado was 23 of 30 and the Utes were 10 of 11.

“We need to toughen up apparently,” said Krystkowiak, who was really displeased with the 17 offensive rebounds the Utes gave up.

Krystkowiak added that the high number of boards they’ve given up the past two games makes it tough to compete against anybody.

“So we’ll be making a few changes to our lineup and get bigger and tougher,” he said. “We can’t keep getting pounded on the glass.”

Jeremy Olsen had eight rebounds for Utah. No other Ute had more than four. Colorado’s Xavier Johnson, Josh Scott, Askia Booker and Wesley Gordon combined for 34 boards, 14 of them offensive.

“It’s a matter of making plays,” Krystkowiak said when asked if Utah’s road woes were about closing out games. “Everybody’s different. It doesn’t need to close out. What do you close out? You don’t get outrebounded by 18. That’s 18 times you need to close out.

“So we talk about losing close games and it’s disheartening,” he added. “But that’s not why we’re losing because we can’t close. We’re losing because we’re getting pounded.”

The scores, though, have been relatively close. Utah’s seven losses this season have come by a combined 26 points.

“It’s just not a good feeling,” said guard Brandon Taylor, who finished with 17 points — sharing team-high honors with Delon Wright.

Utah led 37-31 at the end of an up-and-down first half. The Utes trailed by seven points on three different occasions before pulling ahead with a 14-0 run. They held the Buffaloes scoreless for nearly four minutes during an outburst that included five points by reserve Ahmad Fields. Wright, Taylor and Olsen also scored during the decisive swing.

Wright had five steals to highlight a defensive effort that forced 10 turnovers in the first half. The takeaways allowed the Utes to overcome Colorado’s 18-10 rebounding advantage over the opening 20 minutes of play.

Utah jumped out to a 4-0 lead to open the game — scoring on a basket by Dallin Bachynski and on a pair of free throws by Wright — before missing five straight shots from the field. Colorado capitalized on the drought and took the lead with eight straight points. The outburst fueled a momentum shift that eventually swelled to 15-8.

Utah responded with the first of three responses to such deficits. The Utes closed this one to just two points before the Buffaloes regained a 20-13 advantage.

Taylor then hit a pair of 3-pointers for Utah to close the gap to a single point. Colorado, however, answered with six consecutive points of its own to hold a 26-19 edge with 6:30 left to play in the half.

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