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Utes drop heartbreaker to USF

A horde of Utah mistakes led to a loss in the opening round of the Diamondhead Classic

In the opening round of the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii, the Runnin' Utes fell to the Dons of San Francisco 89-86. San Francisco caught fire from beyond the arc early in the second half, and despite having the ball with 9 seconds left and down only 2, the Utes weren't able to complete the comeback.

The night got off to a sour note for Utah, as Kyle Kuzma landed awkwardly on his ankle less than a minute in to the game, and left with what was reported as a sprained ankle. His availability for the rest of tournament is very questionable.

Sedrick Barefield led the Utes with 35 points, going 11-15 from thefield and 5-7 from three. David Collete contributed heavily in the first half, and finished with 18 points before fouling out in the last seconds of the game, while Devon Daniels and Lorenzo Bonam also hit double digits with 11 and 10 points.

The Runnin' Utes once again struggled with turnovers tonight, which has been a negative theme so far this season, and also failed to defend beyond the arc, as San Francisco tied the Diamond Head Classic record for most three pointers in a game, hitting 16 of 28 three point attempts. The Dons were led Ronnie Boyce, who had 19 points and shot 75% from three.

The Utes and Dons battled back and forth for most of the first half, until San Francisco took a 7 point lead with a minute left in the half, but the Utes were able to cut that lead to 3 before heading to the locker room.

San Francisco hit 6 three pointers within the first 10 minutes of the second half, and their small lead ballooned to 15 points, as the Utes had trouble defending the pick and roll, which led to easy layups and wide open shooters on the perimeter.

Utah battled back though, as an 11-0 run over the span of 3 minutes cut the Dons' lead to just 4. Sedrick Barefield took over for the Utes on offense to end the game, as 17 of his 35 points came with under 10 minutes left in the game, including a couple of big time three pointers that brought the Utes to within 2, with just a minute in a half left in the game.

Down 4 with with 46 seconds left, Lorenzo Bonam was able to draw a foul, and hit two free throws to pull the Utes back within 2. Despite Utah's struggles on the defensive end all night, they were able to force a shot clock violation, which gave them the ball back with 9 seconds left. Sticking with the hot hand, the Utes inbounded the ball to Barefield, who looked to be driving to the hoop as he had been doing all night, but was called for a very, very questionable charging.

The Dons were able to inbound the ball, forcing the Utes to foul with just 1.6 seconds left. The Dons hit 1 of 2 free throws, and JoJo Zamora's last second heave to try and tie the game came up about 20 feet short. The loss drops Utah's record to 7-3 on the season, and the Utes will now face the loser of Illinois State and Hawaii, on the losers side of the Diamond Head Classic bracket, tomorrow night at 8:30pm MT.

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