LAS VEGAS — Utah’s 71-39 loss to fourth-ranked Arizona was off the charts. It deviated from a course this season’s Utes had followed with few exceptions. Their 10 previous losses in 2013-14 came by a combined total of just 45 points. The only previous double-digit setback was an 80-66 outcome at UCLA on Feb. 15.
“It’s disappointing that we’ve been competitive all year and it’s a bad way to end the tournament,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “But we’ll continue to persevere, which is one of our words, our keywords with our culture.”
The Utes, who at 21-11 overall are having their best season since 2008-09, have applied to host an NIT game next week.
“I’m still a firm believer and always have been that everything happens for a reason and this is part of the process for us,” Krystkowiak said after the tournament ouster at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. “It’s over. Time to move on.”
RECORDS, RECORDS: Utah made history, bad history, in Thursday’s quarterfinal loss to Arizona. Besides breaking the mark for fewest points in Pac-12 tournament history with 39, the Utes also set new standards for lowest shooting percentage in a game (25.5 percent), least points in a half (13) and fewest field goals made in a game (12).
“They defend,” Krystkowiak said. “They really defend and that’s why they lead our league.”
Arizona’s margin of victory (32 points) tied the record for the biggest in Pac-12 tourney history.
SHOOTING WOES: For a span of more than 13 minutes over the first and second halves, Utah was 0 for 15 from the field. The Utes entered the tournament as the Pac-12’s top shooting team at 49.7 percent.
“They took us out of our offense. They made it difficult to swing the ball,” said Utah center Dallin Bachynski. “They really put pressure on the pick-and-roll and made it difficult for the guards, especially, to either come off and make a play or come off and look to score.”
EXTRA STUFF: Utah is now 3-3 over three Pac-12 tournament appearances. The Utes were eliminated in the first round in 2012, reached the semifinals in 2013, and the quarterfinals this year. ... Arizona remains the only Pac-12 team that Utah hasn’t beaten since joining the conference in 2011-12. The Utes are now 0-7 against the Wildcats since then. ... Utah used 13 players in the game — 10 grabbed rebounds, eight scored, seven had fouls and four were credited with assists.
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