After losing to Oregon on Thursday night, Utah faced a quick turnaround with Oregon State coming into the Huntsman Center on Saturday night. Inexperience from bench players seemed to be a factor as OSU made a 28 point deficit just six points with 21.4 seconds left in the game. However, the Runnin’ Utes would hang on for an 86-78 win.
Head coach Larry Krystkowiak wanted to avoid any starters getting injured with the game seemingly out of reach for the Beavers, but he’ll use this performance to keep his team engaged in practice this week.
“Turned into a perfect storm,” Krystkowiak said. “Live and learn — it’s important to take advantages of lessons. I wasn’t trying to disrespect anyone [by keeping the bench players on the court], but I’m excited that we got a ‘W.’”
Kyle Kuzma led all Utah scorers with 18 points, and he added 12 rebounds. David Collette followed with 13, and JoJo Zamora and Parker Van Dyke each had 11.
The Utes finished shooting 58.2 percent from the floor, and they were 53.8 percent from the free throw line.
“[The poor free throw shooting is] not because we don’t practice them, but we will now,” Krystkowiak said. “You take your deficiencies, and you plug in time at practice. We’ll get a little creative.”
Collette echoed his coach’s sentiments.
“I don’t know what’s going on in games [regarding free throws],” Collette said. “I think we’re solid in practice, but it’s not translating.”
Utah took control of the game early on, but Oregon State continued to use three point possessions to stay competitive as Utah had a slim 12-9 lead. However, a pair of three-pointers put Utah up 18-11.
OSU struggled to reach the basket, and a Kuzma layup put the Utes up by nine. That lead grew to double digits when Kuzma nailed a three-pointer, and the Utes led 23-13. A couple of free throws later Utah had a 12 point lead. Utah went on to double OSU’s point total, 30-15, following a Kuzma dunk.
Oregon State added a couple of points, but both teams failed to score for about four minutes until OSU hit a three-pointer to make it a 10 point game, 30-20. However, Tyler Rawson was fouled down low, and he made a pair of free throws for the Utes.
Utah committed a couple of fouls, and a result Oregon State made it an eight-point game with less than three and a half minutes to go in the first half, 32-24. Rawson then dunked it to put the Utes up by 10 again. After Utah went 1-for-2 from the line, and OSU three-pointer made it an eight-point game again.
Utah started to attack the basket more, and it worked the lead back up to 12 points, 39-27. Both teams knocked down one more three-pointer to close out the half, Lorenzo Bonam’s was a buzzer beater, and Utah had a 42-30 lead.
Utah came out of the locker room clicking on all cylinders, and the Utes quickly increased their lead to 19 points, 52-33. The Utes continued to run up the score as the Beavers struggled both on offensive and on defense. With 11:06 left in the game, Utah held a 23 point lead, 64-41.
A bit later on in the second half, Van Dyke hit a three-pointer to give Utah a 72-44 lead, and Utah’s starting lineup had retreated to the bench by this point in the game.
“[Games] go up and down, but keeping the lead we felt pretty comfortable,” Collette said.
Oregon State started to chip away at this lead, and the Beavers got it down to 15 points after Jayce Johnson missed back-to-back free throws. A Utah three pointer brought the Utes’ lead back up to 18 points.
However, another OSU three pointer made it a 15 point game with less than four minutes to go. With about two and a half minutes left, the Beavers nailed another three-pointer, and it was a 12 point game. Oregon State stole the ball on Utah’s next possession, and a dunk closed the gap to 10 points. Utah’s starters then came back on the court.
Oregon State cut the lead to eight points, Collette went 1-for-2 from the line, and then Oregon State made it a seven point game. After some back and forth play, and some more misses from the free throw line, the Beavers were within six points, but it wasn’t enough as Utah would go on to win by eight points.
Next up, the Utes will face Cal on Thursday night in Berkeley at 7 p.m.