Utah was nearing dangerous territory in Boulder, threatening to fall into an 0-3 hole in Pac 12 play as the Buffs held a 7 point lead with under 6 minutes to go, the Utes locked down their defense and got a clutch shot out of Lorenzo Bonam to grab their first conference win, 56-54.
The Utes allowed only 4 points over that final 6 minute stretch, closing the game on an 13-4 run, culminating with Bonam's layup with under 2 seconds remaining to give Utah a much needed road win. Bonam was one of the few Utes who showed up on the offensive end on Friday night with 17 points, but it was his 7 over the final 4 minutes that helped prove the difference on a night when Jakob Poeltl, Jordan Loveridge, and Brandon Taylor combined for only 22 points on 25 shots with Poeltl only posting 6 himself. This is what Utah's needs; someone that is willing to take over a game late. The Runnin Utes may have found their man.
Let's start with the good, and that was Utah's defense for much of the game, especially late. They held Colorado to 38.3% from the field, and only 31% from the three point line. Bonam was tremendous and Kyle Kuzma had an efficient game with 12 points, but did bring down only 1 board in the game (possibly due to the back/tailbone issues). The Utes only turned it over 11 times, with very few of those coming in the second half.
The bad? Poeltl played scared, especially once he got into a bit of foul trouble. Fouls 2 and 3 had him playing tentatively on both ends, afraid of picking up another foul, and it changed how effective the big man was able to be. The seniors? Not stepping up. Loveridge had 2 big 3s in the second half, but outside of that, both he and Brandon Taylor looked overmatched again. The bench? 5 points in a combined 50 minutes between 4 guys. The depth we thought this team had is a mirage. They're not very deep.
Still, Utah went into Boulder, beat a team that is a fringe tournament team, and now get close to a week off before home dates with the Oregon schools. It wasn't pretty, but a win is a win is a win.