University of Utah

Sluggish Offense Stalls Utes vs. Oregon

An unproductive offense doomed the Utah Utes (12-5, 1-3 Pac-12) against the Oregon Ducks (14-3, 3-1 Pac-12) at the Huntsman Center on Thursday night.

SALT LAKE CITY—Utah won the opening tip against Oregon, and had a shot clock violation in their first possession. The frustration only mounted for the Utes from there, who fell at home to the Ducks, 77-59.

The Utes (12-5, 1-3 Pac-12) started the second half making their first four shots, exciting the otherwise irritated Huntsman Center crowd, only to miss 15 of the next 16 shots they would take against the Oregon (14-3, 3-1 Pac-12) defense.

Oregon out-rebounded Utah 21-13 in the first half in addition to outshooting the Utes 57%-35%. “I don’t know that we had the level of focus that was necessary to win this ball game,” said Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak. “We didn’t finish possessions…we didn’t handle their zone well. It’s been a marginal week, truth be known, practice-wise for us.”

Krystkowiak also said that Jakob Poeltl sprained his ankle in Tuesday’s practice, which threw off the groove of the team. “It wasn’t a normal week,” Krystkowiak said. “I know it affected me when he went down. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t.”

That lull carried into the game. Oregon came out firing, jumping to an early 8-0 lead, and the Ducks never looked back. Utah’s hot start to the second half seemed to jump-start the Utes, but the shooting went cold again, suppressing the Utes’ energy. “We didn’t come out hard at all,” said Utah guard Brandon Taylor. “I don’t think there was a possession—maybe the start of the second half there were a couple possessions where we played harder than them—but they came out and they played harder than us, but I still think that we beat ourselves.”

Krystkowiak said that Poeltl’s injury didn’t affect his on-court play. Poeltl finished with seven points on 1-4 shooting with seven rebounds. “He didn’t play well,” Krystkowiak said. “Nobody really played well on our team. Little bit of an eye-opener, but corrections are often good if you respond in the right way.”

Having lost at home for the first time this season, the Utes will have two days to watch film and practice before hosting the Oregon State Beavers on Sunday. “There’s nothing magical about our building,” Krystkowiak said.  “We’ve got to get back to what we’ve talked about from day one—playing hard. Hopefully we can get some guys playing with a little bit more confidence.”

While ten Utes scored, only Chris Reyes shot over 50% (2-3) from the floor. Utah finished 19-of-56 shooting, and made only 14 of 25 free throws.

It’s not panic time yet for the Utes, but they’ll need to solve some of their offensive woes if they plan on competing for a Pac-12 championship. “We need to…start putting an honest day’s effort in,” Krystkowiak said. “I think karma kind of happens that way.  If you work really hard and you’re focused…I think the basketball game becomes a little easier, so that’s what we’re going to try to get back to.”

Larry Krystkowiak Postgame:

Brandon Taylor Postgame:

Utah vs Oregon State (11-4, 2-2 Pac-12)
Sunday, January 17, 6:30MT
Pregame coverage begins at 4:30 on ESPN700.

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