CORVALLIS, Ore. — Utah’s bid for a second consecutive Pac-12 victory will have to wait — again.
For the fifth time since joining the conference last season, the Utes failed to follow a league victory with another win. Four days after defeating Colorado, they dropped an 82-64 decision at last-place Oregon State.
Roberto Nelson paced the winning effort with 26 points. Eric Moreland contributed a game-high 15 rebounds.
Wednesday night’s outcome made the Utes and Beavers co-cellar dwellers with 2-8 league records.
“We couldn’t bounce back after a hard hit. As simple as it is, we have to learn how to fight back and not give up while we’re fighting back,” said freshman guard Brandon Taylor, who led Utah with a career-high 21 points and six assists. “We can’t just sit there and let them just keep punching us. It’s unacceptable. But that’s what we did tonight.”
Taylor added that he thought it was heart thing.
“Plays and all that stuff are important,” he said. “But it comes down to heart. It comes down to who has the most heart.”
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak saw things differently. He pointed to the Utes’ lack on production inside as the storyline of the game. Big men Jason Washburn, Renan Lenz, Dallin Bachynski and Jeremy Olsen were a combined 3 of 12 from the field.
“We’re not going to win any games if we don’t have more production from the post,” Krystkowiak said, while noting that the Utes missed some easy shots and had mindless turnovers along the way. “We found a lot of different ways to shoot ourselves in the foot.”
Krystkowiak emphasized the importance of everyone staying together through this difficult stretch.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” said guard Jarred DuBois. “But I think we’re just a few small things away from being that team who can win four in a row and go down to the tournament in Vegas and be hot.”
DuBois, who scored 20 points, acknowledged there’s a direct correlation to getting off to and maintaining a good start.
Utah jumped out to an early 8-5 advantage before Oregon State erased the deficit — and then some — with a 17-4 run.
Trailing 22-12, the Utes responded with a burst of their own, however, to climb back into contention. They outscored the Beavers 11-1 over a span of less than four minutes to even the score at 23-23.
Things didn’t go as well, though, over the final 4:49 of the half. Oregon State regained control of the game and led 34-25 at the break.
The Beavers were 11 of 13 from the foul line, led by Nelson. The junior made all nine of his free throws and had 12 points in the half.
Utah was just 5 of 8 from the stripe over the first 20 minutes. The Utes were also outrebounded 23-19 in the half and outscored 8-4 in points off of turnovers.
Neither team shot better than 33.3 percent from the field in an opening half featuring six ties and three lead changes.
Oregon State (12-11 overall) went on to extend its lead to 47-29 with 13:21 left play and cruised the rest of the way, snapping a three-game skid in the process.
Utah (10-12) never drew closer than eight points down the stretch.
“It doesn’t matter who they are,” Taylor said. “It hurts for us to go out there and play like that and lose.”
Washburn noted that the bigs didn’t do a good job establishing themselves. The senior center took just four shots in 32 minutes and scored only two points. Utah was outscored 32-14 in the paint.
“They did a good job of taking us out of it,” Washburn said. “They made it real tough for me to get the ball and when I did doubles came.”
The Utes face Oregon (18-4, 7-2) Saturday in Eugene.
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