EUGENE, Ore. — Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak pretty much chalked up Thursday’s 79-61 loss at No. 7 Oregon as a learning experience.
“I felt like we had some growth tonight in some areas,” he said.
Most notably, Krystkowiak was pleased with the limited number of transition baskets the Utes surrendered and the lack of turnovers (10) they had. He especially liked that the team did not quit.
“We didn’t make all our shots but I don’t have a problem with that kind of effort. I don’t feel like we beat ourselves,”Krystkowiak said. “I feel like they beat us and that’s sports. It’s palatable and I think we’re ready to move on.” Playing without scoring and rebounding leader Kyle Kuzma, who missed the game after spraining an ankle in practice, the Utes were shorthanded in their bid to end the nation’s longest home-court win streak.
The Ducks never trailed in flying past the Utes for their 41st consecutive victory at Matthew Knight Arena.
“I was proud of our guys’ effort, though. We got beat by the better team,” Krystkowiak said. “There’s a reason they’re seventh in the country and I’m not sure they’re not even better than that.”
Krystkowiak praised Oregon coacvh Dana Altman for the job he’s done with the Ducks, who are the defending Pac-12 champions.
“You don;t have much margin for error when you come into this building,” Krystkowiak said.
Dillon Brooks finished with a game-high 20 points, while Jordan Bell and Tyler Dorsey added 17 and 16, respectively.
Utah was led by a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds by Jayce Johnson. David Collette had 12 points.
“I think there’s some things to take away,” said Collette, who mentioned the things Krystkowiak pointed out.
Things escalated somewhat quickly in a game that was tied for just 21 seconds.
Utah fell into a 5-0 hole that eventually swelled to as wide as 39-18 in the first half. The Utes managed to close the gap to 41-25 by halftime, but could draw no closer than 13 after that. The Ducks led by 26 at one point in teh second half.
The outcome dropped Utah to 17-9 overall and 8-6 in Pac-12 play. The Utes are now in sixth place, 1.5 games behind California with four to go in the race for fourth and a bye in next month’s conference tournament in Las Vegas.
Oregon, meanwhile, upped its record to 23-4 and 12-2.
“They’re a tremendous team. They made some great shots. They got us in a lot of facets of the game. We weren’t able to guard at the point of attack on the bounce and gave up a lot of dribble penetration,” Krystkowiak said. “When we got some good looks, they’’re blocking 10 shots. So there's a lot of different things that go into it and I’m not going to say we started slow or any of that.”
Utah finished competitively, getting outscored 38-36 in the second half.
Although Collette declined to call that any sort of moral victory, he did note that the loss wasn’t going to bring the Utes down.
“We’ve got four games left and we’ll look to win them out and give ourselves a fighting chance in the tournament,” he said.
Utah continues its second-to-last road trip of the season Sunday night at Oregon State (6:30 p.m., ESPNU). The Beavers (4-23, 0-14) lost a 60-52 decision to Colorado on Thursday.
“We can’t harp on what we just did now,” Johnson said. “We have to be ready for the next game.”