After a lackluster performance against the Oregon Ducks, the Utes find themselves struggling with the same things that have been plaguing them all season — fundamentals and turnovers but, more so than that, a lack of focus.
Although the Utes have been working on correcting the supposed-to-be “easy” things in practice, it didn’t show Thursday night as they lost 77-59. Utah continued to turn the ball over, much like it has been doing all season long. Whether or not it’s due to lack of effort, no one seemed ready to play, and when no one comes to the game with the right mindset, that’s when the “easy” things go wrong.
Utah opened the game with no energy and found itself in an 8-0 hole to open the game. Oregon was pressing the team early on, something Utah looked like it was unprepared for — despite dedicating a lot of practice time to it — and turned the ball over a couple of times. Although Oregon was making its fair share of turnovers, Utah wasn’t making anything happen off of them.
At the end of the game, Utah finished with 15 turnovers, while Oregon finished with the same. However, the Ducks converted those Utah turnovers into 15 points, while the Utes mustered just eight points off of Oregon’s turnovers.
Three players had three turnovers for the Utes — Jordan Loveridge, Kyle Kuzma, and Isaiah Wright. Then, all but three players on the Utah squad who got minutes in the game had at least one turnover.
With the heavy amount of fouls being called in the game — 24 in the first half and another 18 in the second — Utah should have been able to take advantage of this, but failed to do so. Instead, the Utes were 14-of-25 from the line as the troubles from the foul line continue.
Head coach Larry Krystkowiak mentioned the team didn’t have a good week of practice, and he could tell there was something missing this week. However, he’s not making any excuses for the Utes poor performance, and they’ll be working hard in the next couple of days to clean up their play.
“We’ve got to get ready to go, and nobody’s going to have any sympathy for us coming into our building,” Krystkowiak said. “We got to get back to what we’ve talked about from Day One, which is playing really hard, and hopefully we can get some more guys playing with some more confidence.”
Brandon Taylor also attributes the loss to the team’s lack of effort in practice. He hates losing at home in front of the Utah fans. To make it up to them, he knows he’ll just have to deal with whatever comes out of this loss in the best way possible.
“Don’t run away from it,” Taylor said. “Embrace it. Accept it. That’s the biggest thing with losing like this. Don’t just sit here and ponder on it and beat yourself up. Coach always says you’re not as bad as you think you are and you’re not as good as you think you are.”
All in all, it was an ugly game for the Utes, and although Krystkowiak won’t necessarily say they desperately need a win against Oregon State this weekend, things won’t be so pretty for the Utes if they drop one more before heading out on the road again.
“We’ve got to get back on our horse,” Krystkowiak said.
He’s not asking for his team to bring its best game, Krystkowiak would be fine with the players bringing a ‘B’ effort, even. All he’s asking them, every single player, is to bring some more energy and put up a better fight than they did against the Ducks.