BOULDER, Colo. — Utah guard Sedrick Barefield wouldn’t say the Utes live and die from 3-point range. He just noted those are often the most open shots when defenses collapse, or following an offensive rebound and a kick out.
The Utes had 26 opportunities from beyond the arc in Saturday’s Pac-12 road finale at Colorado. However, only five of those shots went in — leaving the Utes on the short end of a 71-63 outcome.
“We have tremendous shooters on our team,” Barefield said. “So it was one of those days.”
Utah entered the game leading the conference in 3-point shots made. The Utes, though, didn’t play like it. Their backcourt connected on just 2 of 18 attempts.
“We had a lot of open shots tonight — a lot of good drives and kicks that just didn’t go in,” Barefield said. “And we need those to win games.”
There’s an obvious sense of urgency as Utah ends the regular season this week against USC and UCLA in the Huntsman Center. At 15-13 overall and 9-7 in Pac-12 play, the Utes are still in position to secure one of four byes in the upcoming Pac-12 Tournament. They’re currently in a fourth-place tie with the Bruins and the teams meet Saturday night.
Until then, and before Thursday’s game with USC, Barefield said the Utes should focus on getting a lot of shots up in practice.
Barefield finished with a game-high 19 points in the loss at Colorado. The senior joined sophomore Donnie Tillman, who had 14 points, in making two 3-point shots. The five other Utah players making long-range attempts were a combined 1 of 13.
“It just came down to just having confidence in our offensive skill,” Tillman said.
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak acknowledged that the poor shooting from outside was a big part of the problem. He noted that just having two more go in would have made it a tie game inside the final two minutes.
“We’ve got to make shots,” Krystkowiak said.
It was a glaring shortcoming in a game where the Utes kept the Buffaloes relatively under control and grabbed more rebounds (34-33).8 comments on this story
“Defensively, we were pretty dang good. We just missed a bunch of shots. Not only do we need to hit threes, but we need to have a post presence,” Krystkowiak said. “We don’t have a whole lot going on in and around the rim and we’ve got to do a much better job. I think Colorado definitely checked that box in terms of some of the big boy basketball in and around the basket. They definitely got the best of us.”
Despite the loss, Utah finished the season with its best Pac-12 road record at 6-3. The Utes are now focused on going 5-4 at home, a mark that requires two victories this week.
“We need all our guys to step up and make some plays going down the stretch,” Krystkowiak said.