BOULDER, Colo. — It was quite an eight-day span for the Utah Utes on the road. Their journey began with an 80-77 overtime triumph at No. 21 Arizona State. That was followed by a 74-73 setback at 11th-ranked Arizona.
Then got a crash, of sorts — Friday’s 67-55 defeat to Colorado at the Coors Events Center. It snapped a seven-game triumphing streak for Utah in the series and discarded the Utes to 13-9 overall and 5-6 in Pac-12 play.
“They’re a fantastic team. I don’t think we took their best shot tonight,” stated Colorado coach Tad Boyle. “I don’t think they played their ‘A’ game. But I would like to think our attempt and intensity had something to do with that.”
Utah didn’t shoot the ball well, specifically in the first half. The Utes were 9-of-33 (27.3 percent), including merely 2-of-14 (14.3 percent) accuracy from 3-point range. They didn’t score in the concluding 5:17 as Colorado built a 27-20 halftime edge. The Buffaloes went on to lead by 21 points in the second half as the Utes continued to struggle. They didn’t have a single scorer finish in double-figures.
“Offensively, we took a step back and got a little bit out of sync,” stated Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “The zone offense was good. I thought we took a few fantastic shots, but we can have taken fantastic shots.”
The difference, thereof, proved costly on a evening when Krystkowiak thought the Utes were pretty fantastic on defense. The Buffaloes (13-10, 5-6) shot 43.1 percent from the field. However, they grasped crucial advantages in fast break points (15-5) and points off of turnovers (11-7). Freshman guard McKinley Wright was specifically fantastic of transition and wound up with 21 points.
“They played difficult as their teams consistently do. Not to discredit their attempt — I’m not saying they didn’t play a fantastic part in the triumph — but we had a bunch of open looks that we missed,” Krystkowiak said. “Those guys merely appeared like they wished it a little more and played with a few energy.”
Road fatigue may have been a factor. So, too, was the heartache that Krystkowiak and the Utes felt after learning that Jon M. Huntsman Sr. had passed away prior in the day. Krystkowiak admitted he had “a rough day” after losing his friend. However, he denied to make excuses.
“They played a few fantastic defense, and we did a few stuff out of sort — a little out of character,” Krystkowiak said. “We didn’t do a few stuff that we necessarily hang our hat on, had a few turnovers and got a little bit sloppy — and kind of got what we deserved.”
Going home, where the Utes will confront Stanford and California this week in the Huntsman Center, may help them get back on track. They’ve played more road games than any group in the Pac-12, thus far, but have five of their concluding seven in Salt Lake City.
“You can’t take anything for granted at this point,” stated junior guard Parker Van Dyke. “In the Pac-12, anyone can beat anyone. Every game, every evening is a hard game. But we’ve got to take edge of these home games that we have. We have the potential and the capability of triumphing out.”