SALT LAKE CITY — Utah left Kentucky with an 88-61 setback and a losing record Saturday. The loss dropped the Utes to 4-5 on the season. They turned the ball over 18 times at Rupp Arena, leading to 34 points by the Wildcats.
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said the turnovers were “a little bit crazy.” Another shortcoming was Kentucky connecting on 58.6 percent of its shots from the field, including 12-of-21 accuracy from 3-point range.
“We have a lot of internal things we need to work on,” Krystkowiak continued. “There are a lot of different facets.”
The Utes, he said, have a couple of home games this week before Christmas break to get ready for “a really good Nevada team” on Dec. 29 and then Pac-12 play, which begins in early January with a trip to Arizona State and Arizona.
Before that, Utah takes on Florida A&M (2-9) on Monday and Northern Arizona (2-6) on Saturday. The former has lost nine of its last 10 games, while the latter is on a five-game slide entering a Wednesday contest at San Francisco.
"As a team, we’ve just got to get better. We're going back home now, so I just feel like we've got to have a good week of practice because we have two games coming up,” said freshman Both Gach, who scored a career-high 22 points in the Kentucky loss.
Turnovers have proven to be a big issue through nine games. Utah has lost the ball 120 times, the opposition on just 95 occasions.
Senior guard Sedrick Barefield noted that the turnover issues are the result of a combination of things.
“Ultimately, we just got to be on the same page with guys,” he said.
After the Kentucky game, Krystkowiak was asked what caused the miscues against the Wildcats. He explained that it was “impossible to quantify” such things.
“It was obviously something. The thing I know that we can control is our execution,” Krystkowiak continued. “We had a couple of end out of bounds plays. We had a couple of plays that have a finishing action to them, that when we decide we’re just going make it up on our own you kind of deserve to turn it over, and that's what happened.
“There were a few pick-sixes where you throw it to them and you can't defend a dunk in transition. I don't know if mindless is the right term. You've got to be disciplined to say, 'OK, we didn't get that and how do we finish the play?' It's the play after the play,” he added. “We didn't want to turn the ball over. We did and I think certainly our offense has a long way to go. We got in late to the shot clock far too many times.”
Despite the mistakes, Krystkowiak told reporters the Utes are coachable. The players are determined to improve.Comment on this story
“I just feel like we need to work on limiting turnovers to the 8-10 range," Gach said.
EXTRA STUFF: This is the first meeting between Utah and FAMU. … The Utes are 7-0 against squads from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. … Utah and California are tied for fewest non-conference wins (4) in the Pac-12. … Bill Walton is scheduled to be on the Pac-12 Networks broadcast team Monday night.
Florida A&M (2-9) at Utah (4-5)
- Huntsman Center
- Monday, 6 p.m.
- TV: Pac-12 Network
- Radio: ESPN 700AM