Matt Gade, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Less than 24 hours after a 67-63 overtime loss to fourth-ranked Arizona, the Utah Utes returned to the Huntsman Center for practice.
“It’s partly cloudy but the sun came up,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “So it’s all good.”
Even so, the loss to the Wildcats was painful.
The Utes had multiple opportunities to alter the outcome — mostly from the free-throw line, where a late miss in regulation and four in overtime proved costly. Turnovers and shooting woes also weighed heavily in a contest featuring seven lead changes and six ties.
“There’s so many of those little moments of truth throughout the course of a game,” Krystkowiak said. “We’ve got to be better at it than we were last night.”
Ultimately, it all added up to nullify a Utah rally from 12 points down in the second half.
Sophomore guard Brandon Taylor, who entered the game hitting 86 percent of his free throws, missed four in overtime — including three when the Utes trailed 60-58 with 3:29 remaining.
“You don’t want to feel the way that I felt last night. I felt disgusted. I just felt all kinds of feelings that weren’t good,” Taylor said. “I couldn’t fight it and some of those are still lingering around today.”
To combat the negativity, Taylor has tried to look back at the game as a whole. He finished with a team-high 13 points and five assists.
“I know I played really, really hard throughout the game — offensively and defensively,” said Taylor, who acknowledged not really having answers for what happened. “I can’t sit here and harp on it. I can’t sit here and just think about it all day long. I’m not going to get anywhere.
“I can’t change anything that happened,” he continued. “I wish things would have happened differently.”
Taylor felt like he rushed himself a bit and was thinking about everything that could go wrong while at the line in clutch time — things he normally doesn’t do. In retrospect, Taylor wishes he had been more comfortable.
“I know I’m a good free-throw shooter and I know I’m better than how I performed yesterday. But sometimes stuff happens,” Taylor said. “I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, you know, and hopefully it’s for a better outcome.”
Sophomore forward Jordan Loveridge also had a tough outing. He was just 1-of-12 from the field and missed a free throw with 28 seconds remaining in regulation that would have put Utah ahead.
Loveridge, who finished with seven points, said it was just one of those games where shots weren’t falling.
And then there were the other variables that factored into Utah’s second home loss of the season.
“It was just a little bit of everything,” Loveridge said. “We had opportunities that we missed. You just wish you could have those back.”
The loss dropped the Utes to 17-9 overall and 6-8 in Pac-12 play. The Utes are in a seventh-place tie with Washington with four games left in the regular season.
“It hurts because we knew we could have won that game,” Taylor said. “But we really played. We went out there and competed and we never gave up.”
Fighting back from 12 points down wasn’t the only positive. In a 65-56 loss at Arizona on Jan. 16, Utah was outrebounded 40-29 and gave up 20 offensive boards. On Wednesday, the Utes knocked the latter down to 11 and wound up winning the overall rebounding battle by a 37-31 margin.
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