Utes Drop a Tough One to Arizona on the Road
Utah learned Sunday night that they are still a couple steps away from seriously challenging for a conference championship despite major improvement over the last season and a half. Going on the road to face the best team in college basketball is no easy task and the Utes certainly gave it their best shot, but late game execution haunted this team again. Arizona has the players that can turn it on at any moment and that is exactly what Nick Johnson did to close the game out. Johnson finished with 22 points on 9-18 shooting and also had 4 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal and was the best player on the floor. This road loss was different than others. The game went exactly how I thought it would. Utah can play with any team in the conference, but closing out games is their biggest weakness. Competing on a regular basis is something they can do, the next step in restoring the Utah basketball program is to figure out how to focus and execute properly down the stretch.
Utah was led by Delon Wright who scored 19 points on 5-12 shooting and also had 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and a block. Jordan Loveridge also chipped in with 13 points on 4-14 shooting, grabbed 5 rebounds and had a steal and a block in 38 minutes of playing time. Dakarai Tucker had another nice game by scoring 10 points on 4-8 shooting. Kenneth Ogbe made two crucial 3-pointers that helped Utah stay in the game. Utah is much closer to competing seriously in the Pac-12 than it has the previous two years in the conference. What better way to measure yourself than facing the best. Utah needs improved play from their starting point guard and needs someone to consistently help Delon Wright and Jordan Loveridge.
With the loss, the Utes dropped to 14-6 overall and 3-5 in conference play. Up next for the Runnin' Utes is a game against their mountain neighbors, the Colorado Buffaloes. The Buffaloes were thought of as a serious Pac-12 contender before Spencer Dinwiddie went down with a season ending injury. Since then, the Buffs have gone 1-3 with double digit losses to UCLA, Arizona State and Arizona. Both teams will have a week to prepare for the game and so you can expect a tight contest with a Colorado team playing for pride. My early prediction says that Utah should win the game as they've been strong at home and Colorado has struggled to compete on the road since the injury to Dinwiddie. Utah needs wins desperately at this point to secure a spot in postseason play and will need a packed house Saturday afternoon to help secure the victory. Be there and cheer loud to help the Utes get a win against Colorado.
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