Utah Utes basketball: Utes try to bounce back, pull out of tailspin

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 12 2011 11:00 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — After coming up empty in back-to-back games against nationally-ranked conference foes, Utah coach Jim Boylen sounded a bit like a weary gunslinger.

"We've got to pick ourselves up," he said. "We've got to pick our bootstraps up and saddle it back up."

Utah enters Saturday's game at Wyoming with a seven-game losing streak. The Utes (7-10, 0-3) have gone almost four weeks without a victory.

The latest setback was especially painful. Tuesday's 104-79 loss to BYU was Utah's most lopsided homecourt loss in the history of the rivalry. It was also the Utes' second-biggest Salt Lake City shortfall in the series, trailing only a 96-65 decision in the 1994 WAC tourney at the Delta Center.

Despite it all, the Utes remain determined. Boylen vows they'll regroup, grow and learn.

"I still believe we're close," Boylen said. "There's no shame in losing a game, but it's very painful to lose to your rival on your home floor. We all know that. My job is to evaluate this group and keep them moving forward."

With 13 games and a conference tournament still ahead, there's still time to turn the tide.

"We've got a lot of basketball left," Boylen added.

"So I'm going to keep teaching and working."

And the players plan to do their part. All aboard insist a breakthrough is imminent.

"We've just got to get better," guard Josh Watkins said after scoring 19 points and dishing out seven assists against BYU. "Every day we've got to work a little harder. We're right there."

The schedule gets a little easier. Following the trip to Wyoming, Utah closes out the month with home games against New Mexico (Jan. 19) and Colorado State (Jan. 29), as well as a road date at TCU (Jan. 22).

e-mail: dirk@desnews.com

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