SALT LAKE CITY — Utah committed a season-high 23 turnovers in Saturday afternoon's 76-58 Pac-12 loss to Oregon State in the Huntsman Center.
The Utes struggled mightily against the Beavers' pressure, and they had the ball stolen 16 times.
"No disrespect to our players, but I thought we played scared — waiting for someone else to make a move and make a play," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said while noting that Oregon State is a team recruited for length in a 1-3-1 half-court trap scheme.
"It's a lot like a shark. If they get a little sniff of blood in the water then it's just going to become magnified and that much harder to deal with," he said.
It wasn't exactly "Jaws," although it sounded a lot like it in Krystkowiak's post-game remarks.
"We had a timeout one time (and) we had like three guys in our huddle that I thought were going to faint. They were as pale as a ghost," he said. "To me that's an indication that there's not quite enough blood flowing to the brain. I don't know what shut down, but we looked very scared and out of sorts."
As such, the Utes (5-18, 2-9) never held a lead and shot just 40 percent (18-of-45) from the field in losing their fourth straight game.
"We had trouble executing," said Utah center Jason Washburn. "They bothered us a little bit and we didn't do what we needed to do in that type of pressure to make the right plays."
The Utes turned the ball over 13 times in the decisive first half. They trailed 38-25 at halftime, once going 5:27 without scoring.
"It set the tone. We got a lot of steals in the first half and some easy buckets," said Oregon State guard Jared Cunningham. "Going into halftime, we had a comfortable lead so we didn't want to lose that. We just wanted to come out in the second half and just play harder."
The Beavers (15-8, 5-6) reeled off 13 straight points during the stretch to take a 29-15 advantage with 5:19 remaining in the half.
Utah responded with a three-point play by Washburn on the ensuing possession. His dunk on the play was the only field goal the Utes had over the final 9:24 of the decisive half.
By the time the intermission rolled around, the Beavers had outscored the Utes 26-8 in the paint, 13-2 off turnovers and 10-0 on fast breaks. Oregon State took 20 more shots from the field (38-18) than Utah and pulled down 13 offensive rebounds.
"They just took it to us. They've got a good basketball team. I think they're considerably better than their record," Krystkowiak said. "They've had some tough, close losses. We just didn't have an answer for their pressure."
Utah opened the second half with a 7-2 run to reduce Oregon State's lead to 40-32. The Utes managed to pull within eight once again a short time later, but could draw no closer the rest of the way.
"We responded with stops first and them converted them (into baskets) and that's something we haven't been able to do on the road," said Oregon State coach Craig Robinson. "It was really nice to see the guys execute the game plan fully on the road. We typically do it at home, but we've had trouble doing it on the road."
Speaking of trouble on the road, Utah visits Arizona State on Thursday and Arizona on Saturday. The Utes have lost 13 consecutive games — dating back to last season — outside of Salt Lake City.
Any hope of hitting the road with a little momentum, evaporated with each costly turnover.
"Just about everything that could go wrong, went wrong for us," Krystkowiak said. "The first half, I thought, was kind of the story of the game."
Cedric Martin led the Utes with 19 points. Washburn added 15 and a career-high eight blocked shots.
Bright spots, though, were few.
Guards Kareem Storey and Chris Hines had poor outings. Storey turned the ball over nine times and Hines missed all eight shots he took.
"There's really nothing positive that came out of this thing," Krystkowiak said before noting Washburn's blocks and the team's 17-of-22 free-throw shooting as highlights. "But we've got a lot of work to do. I wouldn't say there's any momentum at all for what we're doing right now. We just need to kind of get back to the drawing board and figure out a plan for Thursday."
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