We had a whole week of practice, so Coach has been telling me, 'Just keep playing hard, keep playing defense and keep bringing the energy that (you) bring. —Utah freshman Ahmad Fields
BOULDER, Colo. — Prior to making a major contribution Saturday at Colorado, Utah freshman Ahmad Fields had done a lot of sitting.
After scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the lopsided nonconference finale against St. Katherine, the 6-foot-5, 193-pound guard from Washington, D.C., only saw limited action against Oregon and USC — failing to score or grab a board in either contest. In Utah’s six other Pac-12 contests, Fields never left the bench.
That changed at the Coors Events Center. Fields wound up playing 16 minutes, scoring nine points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field.
“We had a whole week of practice, so Coach has been telling me, 'Just keep playing hard, keep playing defense and keep bringing the energy that (you) bring,'” said Fields, who acknowledged the importance of being ready when he got his chance.
Teammate Brandon Taylor noted that Fields gave the Utes a lift.
“I tip my hat off to him,” he said. “He came in and did what he did. We needed it and it was very important for us to stay in the game.”
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak noted that it was a “gut feeling” to utilize Fields more on Saturday.
“The kid’s been working his butt off and that’s what we need,” said Krystkowiak, who was impressed with Fields’ defensive efforts. “We need some length and we need some energy and we need some rebounds. He’s been sitting there waiting his turn and it just might have been his turn.”
ANOTHER CLOSE ONE: Including Saturday’s setback, Utah’s seven losses this season have come by a combined 26 points.
“We’ve had the lead in a lot of games and each one was tough. It’s not because we had the lead, it’s just because we can’t win a game,” Krystkowiak said. “It’s solvable. It’s not because we don’t have the players. The issue is what we are not doing, which is what I just talked about. We will get over it.”
In his postgame remarks, Krystkowiak pointed to a 42-24 rebounding shortfall as “the difference in the ballgame.” Giving up 17 offensive rebounds, he added, makes it difficult to compete against anybody.
EXTRA STUFF: Utah has now lost 11 consecutive road games overall (10 in conference play). ... Colorado increased it lead in the all-time series to 25-16. ... Jordan Loveridge was held to a season-low four points on 2-of-11 shooting. ... Delon Wright finished with seven steals. ... Taylor (17), Wright (17) and Dakarai Tucker (11) were the only Utes to score in double figures against the Buffaloes.