Playing at home for the first time in 2016, the Runnin’ Utes got off to a sloppy start, could not recover and lost to the Oregon Ducks, 77-59.
The Ducks outscored the Utes in the paint 36-18 and had an overall better shooting percentage. They were at 54.9 percent shooting compared to Utah’s 33.9 percent.
Head coach Larry Krystkowiak was disappointed in the fact that none of his players were able to step up for the team. He thinks the Utes were not ready to play after an emotional win in Boulder.
“We had some breakdowns,” Krystkowiak said. “They played with a lot more energy than we did to start the basketball game, whether it was defensively or in transition. Don’t know that we had the level of focus necessary to win the ball game.”
Brandon Taylor had the most points for the Utes, finishing with 12 on the night. He was the only one to score in double figures. Poeltl had another off night and was 1-of-4 from the floor, ending with seven points.
Krystkowiak thinks Poeltl did not play so well because he tweaked his ankle earlier this week in practice, but his injury had an effect on the entire team.
“It wasn’t a normal week,” Krystkowiak said. “[Poeltl’s injury] took a little air out of our sails. Nobody really played well on our team.”
Opening up the game, the Utes were forced to attempt a three-pointer at the end of the shot clock, which the Ducks blocked. Then, on their next possession, Poeltl got the ball stripped away from him. On the other end of the court, after a couple of free throws for the Ducks, Oregon made back-to-back three pointers to go up 8-0.
Poeltl finally put some points up for the Utes when he got fouled in the key, making the basket plus the free throw. However, Utah was struggling with the full court press from Oregon and turned the ball over a few times.
Dakarai Tucker came into the game and drained a three, but the Utes fouled on defense and gave Oregon its own three-point play.
Oregon’s Jordan Bell was given a technical about six minutes into the half, and Taylor subsequently knocked down both free throws.
Oregon had already tallied 10 fouls with more than 12 minutes to play, which worked to Utah’s favor since the Utes were struggling to get anything going. Then Taylor started to get hot, and behind a few points from him the Utes cut the eight-point deficit to two.
Oregon did not allow Utah to tie the game up, however, and instead went on a run, extending its lead to nine points. Soon, there were fouls being called everywhere. Poetl was called for his second and was immediately subbed out.
Neither team was really able to get anything going because of the whistles, and Utah was 12-of-21 from the line that half, whereas Oregon was 10-of-11. The refs let up a bit and Oregon found its rhythm once more and got out to a 44-31 lead.
At the end of the half, Loveridge knocked down one final three-pointer, but the Utes were still down 46-34. Oregon was outplaying Utah in nearly every category. Utah was shooting 34.6 percent, and Oregon was shooting 57.1 percent. The Ducks were also winning the rebound battle with 21, compared to Utah’s 13.
The Utes came out with a lot more life in second half. They knocked down two early three-pointers and got a couple of stops on defense.
“Changed our mindset a little coming out of the locker room,” Krystkowiak said.
But it didn’t last long. The Ducks were able to respond soon enough and kept their double-digit lead.
Utah soon went into a scoring drought and didn’t make a single basket for nearly eight minutes. Fans started filing out of the arena when the Utes went down by 19 points, and soon Krystkowiak took his starters out of the game.
Taylor thinks the Utes really beat themselves tonight with their low energy levels and is hopeful they can turn it around.
“You change your mindset and you change your approach as a team,” Taylor said. “We have to change the way we came out in this game. We didn’t come out hard at all.”
The Utes are now 1-3 in the conference and will look to rebound against Oregon State this Sunday at 6:30 p.m.