BOULDER, Colo. — Utah’s bid to sweep the season series with Colorado fell by the wayside Thursday night with a 60-50 loss at the Coors Events Center.
The Utes, who defeated the Buffaloes 58-55 in Salt Lake City on Feb. 2, had a pair of five-point leads in the first half and a one-point advantage shortly after halftime in the rematch.
Colorado, though, managed to seize control of the game and defeat Utah for the fourth time in five meetings since both programs joined the Pac-12 last season. The Utes dropped to 11-15 overall and 3-11 in conference play with the latest setback.
“We had a hard time scoring, I thought, in the second half and turned the ball over too many times in the first half,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak.
Senior Cedric Martin noted that there were a lot of variables.
“We put ourselves in a hole by giving up a lot of offensive rebounds, turnovers and not making shots,” he said.
It all added up to another tough outcome for the Utes. Freshman Jordan Loveridge acknowledged that it’s always frustrating to lose when you prepare so hard to succeed.
Teammate Jason Washburn agrees.
“It’s very tough. Losses are tough. I don’t think there’s a measurement,” he explained. “Losing on this team is losing. The close ones hurt, the big ones hurt, so do ones like this. So losing is losing and losing is not in any way fun.”
There are, however, some silver linings — perhaps.
The Utes kept playing hard after falling behind by 11 with 12:22 left to play. They closed the deficit to five on three occasions down the stretch before the Buffaloes iced the outcome with five free throws in the final 46 seconds.
“We showed our resiliency again,” Washburn said.
And that, Loveridge noted, is something to build on as Utah enters a season-ending stretch that includes road games at California and Stanford, as well as home dates with Oregon State and Oregon before the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas.
“We know we’re right there so we’re going to try to keep going and get better everyday,” Loveridge said.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN RUMBLE: Krystkowiak declined comment on an off-the-court scuffle that took place in the tunnel before the second half started. Krystkowiak told reporters he had no idea what it was about, noting that he stayed clear of that stuff because he had a game to think about.
Colorado’s Andre Roberson, however, shared his thoughts on the situation.
“They were banging on our locker room door before they walked out. We took that as disrespect,” Roberson said. “Beau (Gamble) definitely did. He walked out there and tried to mess up their huddle and we were behind him 100 percent. We’re not going to let anybody come in on our home court and punk us. So that’s how it is.”
FRIENDS-N-FOES: In his postgame remarks, Colorado coach Tad Boyle noted that he has a lot of respect for Krystkowiak.
“But when the ball goes up, we are trying to beat his brains in and he is trying to beat ours in,” Boyle said. “So that friendship stuff goes out the window.”
Boyle told reporters that he appreciates the good perspective Krytskowiak has as a coach.
“I think he is doing great with that program. They have some good young players,” Boyle explained. “You got some good freshman to build around, but it is hard to rely on freshman to win games in conference play — and that is where he is right now.”