Utes drop another tough one on the road.
Saturday's contest against the Colorado Buffaloes was the most Utah game ever. Utah played well and even built a 12-point lead, but just like many times this season, the Utes couldn't close the deal down the stretch. Utah falls to 1-24 in road games since joining the conference, the lone road win coming last year against the Washington Huskies. Larry Krystkowiak has done a great job at rebuilding the Utah basketball program; fans have returned to the Huntsman Center and Utah's recruiting has vastly improved, but the program still can't get road wins. Nope, not even when they build a 12-point lead against a team without their best player. Someday it will happen, one of these times Utah will win a road game, but today is not that day. If the Utes can't win this type of game on the road, I'm not sure they can win any road game this year.
Utah lost this game because they couldn't rebound the ball. They were out-rebounded 42-25 and many of those rebounds came on the offensive end for Colorado. With nearly a week off, Utah needed to show more urgency and energy down the stretch. All of these road losses are becoming a habit for this young team. Despite the outcome, there were some bright spots from players that have been missing on the road.Brandon Taylor really shot the ball well and was the x-factor for the Utes in the first 20 minutes. Taylor scored 17 points on 6-13 shooting including 5 3-pointers. He hit the three to tie the game with 5 seconds left to force overtime. Taylor needed to see the first 3-ball go in and it seemed like after his first make, his confidence had returned. Another nice surprise for the Utes was the play of Ahmad Fields. Coming off the bench, Fields scored 9 points on effective 4-6 shooting, dished out 2 assists and had a rebound and a steal in arguably his best game as a Ute. Delon Wright had another strong performance by scoring 17 points, handing out 11 assists and stealing the ball 7 times. The most puzzling stat line of the game was that of Jordan Loveridge. Utah's leading scorer who has been Utah's most consistent player alongside Wright only scored 4 points on 2-11 shooting. Utah has come a long way, but they are not good enough to win games when Loveridge doesn't play well. Loveridge also added 5 assists and a steal. Colorado was led by Josh Scott who scored 20 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked 3 shots. Askia Booker also played well for the Buffaloes by scoring 18 points, grabbing 8 rebounds and dishing out 7 assists. In the preview, I said to watch out for someone random player off the bench to play big for Colorado and that was Xavier Talton . Talton scored 14 points including going 4-5 from beyond the arc.
The Utes will need to forget about this game and get ready for the Washington Huskies who come to the Huntsman Center on Thursday night. The Utes have lost three straight and need to start winning some of these close games if they hope to have a chance at postseason action. Washington has won two straight with the wins coming against the Oregon schools. The Huskies have lost three straight on the road, but that may change as Washington plays Washington State later tonight. Thursday's game is a must win for the Utes, they HAVE to get that win. Pack the Huntsman and give the Utes a strong home court advantage.
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