SALT LAKE CITY—Utah didn’t beat No. 4 UCLA, but they proved they can compete against the best. The Bruins (18-1, 5-1 Pac-12) survived in Salt Lake and edged the Utes (12-5, 3-2 Pac-12), 83-82.
With 5.1 to play and down one point, the Utes had possession of the ball with a chance to win against a top-five team. Kyle Kuzma received the inbound pass, and under the pressure of UCLA’s defense, forced an awkward shot with a still several seconds left, and the Bruins came down with the rebound and Thomas Welsh was fouled with one tick on the clock.
“I thought Dave [Collette] was open initially,” said head coach Larry Krystkowiak. “We want to be a little bit more crisp with our screens, but it’s a man-to-man on an end out-of-bounds. You’re trying to give as many guys options and put a passer in Lorenzo on the end line to make the right play, and it didn’t work out for us.”
After Welsh made his two free throws, Kuzma rifled the ball under the Bruins’ basket to Lorenzo Bonam, who put it up for two points at the buzzer. The pro-Utah crowd had a loud burst of brief joy, but unfortunately for the home team, they were down three, and the shot beat only the 2.5-point spread.
Regarding the play, Krystkowiak noted Kuzma “put it right on the money to Lorenzo, but the pass, if we were down three, should have been to the three-point line, and then we give it the old college try.”
“I think we should have won,” said Sedrick Barefield. “We just gotta learn from the mistakes we made.”
Lorenzo Bonam, who finished with a game-high 19 points, agreed his team “most definitely let one get away. We was up the whole game, basically.”
The Utes certainly did lead for the majority of the game, holding their largest lead of nine points just minutes into the second half after trailing at the break by two. Utah had sliced up the Bruins inside to the tune of an 11-0 run before the Bruins punched back.
As Utah’s lead dwindled back down and the Bruins took the lead with under ten minutes to play, the game entered the territory and environment of a big time college basketball game.
The capacity crowd reached its feet multiple times, prodding the Utes to answer every Bruin lead.
With some perspective though he was “pissed” his team lost, Krystkowiak acknowledged the crowd. “I think our guys responded,” he said. “It was an unbelievable college atmosphere. Really neat and fun to be a part of.”
The Utes will hit the road next week to face Washington State on Wednesday and Washington on Saturday. Both games will be heard on ESPN 700.
Larry Krystkowiak Postgame:
Sedrick Barefield, Lorenzo Bonam Postgame:
Assistant coach Tommy Connor on Utah Sports Radio Network Postgame:
Bonam Network Postgame: