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Utah Utes basketball: Good start doesn't lead to win for Utes

Utah relaxes, loses crispness after posting early lead

Published: Thursday, Dec. 22 2011 8:19 p.m. MST

Damian Lillard, of WSU, lower left, and Chris Hines, of Utah fight for a loose ball as Weber State University faces the University of Utah in NCAA basketball in Ogden, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Damian Lillard, of WSU, lower left, and Chris Hines, of Utah fight for a loose ball as Weber State University faces the University of Utah in NCAA basketball in Ogden, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

OGDEN — Things started off well for the Utah Utes Thursday night at Weber State. An early five-point lead, though, quickly evaporated and their run of two straight wins ended with a 80-51 loss to the Wildcats in the Dee Events Center.

"We were cruising there a little bit," said Utah center Jason Washburn. "We just put the cruise on, kept going and we hit a snow bank."

The loss, which dropped the Utes to 3-9 on the season, began to materialize shortly after the Utes jumped out to a 9-4 advantage on three free throws by Cedric Martin and a pair of 3-pointers from Dijon Farr.

Weber State quickly erased the deficit and pulled ahead for good following after an exchange of leads. Backup center James Hajek ignited a decisive 19-4 run with six straight points as the Wildcats built a 30-16 advantage.

Scott Bamforth, of WSU, and Chris Hines, of Utah fight for a loose ball as Weber State University faces the University of Utah in NCAA basketball in Ogden, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Scott Bamforth, of WSU, and Chris Hines, of Utah fight for a loose ball as Weber State University faces the University of Utah in NCAA basketball in Ogden, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

Things grew worse for Utah. Weber State later scored the final 11 points of the half and led 41-23 at the break.

It proved to be too much for the Utes to overcome.

"We came out pretty well, made some shots," said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. "Then I thought we kind of got fooled into the mode that we didn't have to play as hard anymore."

The Utes, he added, got a little bit lax and didn't run the offense with any crispness. They also had a number of turnovers at inopportune times, didn't defend in transition and Weber State made shots.

Krystkowiak acknowledged it all "kind of hit us pretty fast."

Even so, he doesn't look at following wins over Idaho State and Portland with a loss to Weber State as a "two steps forward, one step back" kind of situation.

Weber State University's head coach Randy Rahe yells to his team as Weber State University faces the University of Utah in NCAA basketball in Ogden, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Weber State University's head coach Randy Rahe yells to his team as Weber State University faces the University of Utah in NCAA basketball in Ogden, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

"I don't feel like we took a step back. It's like every game has been the whole time, we're going to learn something from it," Krystkowiak said.

"We haven't been on the road in a while and we came in and played a really good team."

The game ended what the coach calls "season one" for the Utes. They open Pac-12 play Dec. 31 at Colorado. He encouraged the team to focus on what they can change and bring back different after the Christmas break — then just kind of relax and have fun joining the Pac-12.

When everyone returns, Krystkowiak said there won't be any wondering about things like player roles, what the coach is going to be like and what systems will be run — all of the unknowns before the season began.

"We've got that under our belts. I don't think any stretch is going to be rougher than it just was for us. I think we're going to come back with a renewed sense," Krystkowiak said. "I don't think it's time to talk about a step back. I think it's more about taking a step away."

Weber State players celebrate as a team mate hits a three pointer to end the first half as Weber State University faces the University of Utah in NCAA basketball in Ogden, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Weber State players celebrate as a team mate hits a three pointer to end the first half as Weber State University faces the University of Utah in NCAA basketball in Ogden, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

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