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Utah battles but falls to Oregon 69-64

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The Oregon program is the proverbial thorn in the side for the Utah program. Football, basketball, you pretty much name it, and the Ducks are always in the way of the Utes. On Saturday afternoon, the Utes stood toe-to-toe with the No. 4 ranked team in the country and had opportunities to pull the upset, but they couldn’t quite pull it out.

The Utes were led by Both Gach who finished with a career-high 24 points on the game, while Timmy Allen posted his fourth double-double of the year with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Mikael Jantunen played a really nice game for the Utes with a perfect night from the floor, scoring 10 points on 3-of-3 shooting – two of which came from beyond the arc.

The entire game was played within 10 points, which was Oregon’s biggest lead in the second half. Oregon would generally jump out to a 5 or 7 point lead, and then Utah would pull them back, and it see-sawed like that the entire game.

Where things were really interesting was in the second half. Out of the gates, Utah jumped on Oregon and took a shot-lived lead at 38-36, after a Gach steal and dunk, but Oregon would take the lead right back. Things got really interesting at about the 8 minute mark, when Utah was down 56-50. Allen split a couple of free throws, and Riley Battin comes down the rebound on the miss, and calls a quick timeout to preserve the possession. The ensuing play saw Jantunen hit a three, and while the ball was going in the basket, Allen was fouled going to the basket for a potential rebound. The foul was called a flagrant, and Timmy calmly hit two free throws. Utah retained possession, due to the flagrant foul, and after a Gach missed three, Allen came down with the board and made a layup to give Utah the 58-56 lead. It was an eight point trip down the floor for the Utes, something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. From there it was a sprint to the end of the game, and the Utes just didn’t have enough gas to get over the hump.

The Utes had multiple chances to send the game to overtime, or potentially win it, in the waning moments, but too many offensive boards by Oregon, which they weren’t able to capitalize on, and some missed open threes kept the game at 67-64, before a pretty meaningless dunk at the end.

So the Utes split the home stand against the Oregon schools, which I think is what was to be expected, but they played better than I expected them too overall. The Utes only shot 35% against Oregon, while the Ducks shot 45%, and were in the game the whole time. They also only turned the ball over 7 times, which is crazy considering last year it was over 20. Utah also missed 7 free throws, going 13 of 20, something that they are usually much better at. Overall, pretty please with the home stand and something to build on. The Utes now take on Colorado next Sunday in Boulder.

Here are Coack K’s and some players comments after the game:

Head Coach Larry Krystkowiak…

Thoughts on team’s performance against Oregon…

“It was a good college basketball game. I told our team and I told our coaches, that’s what we signed up for. There were a lot of positive things that our team did, Oregon has always been a problem for us with turnovers. If you would have told me that we were going to turn it over seven times in that game, I would have definitely hit the deal button. To beat an elite team like that, you’ve got to make more open shots. I thought that we had a ton of open shots in the first half, and then Oregon came back and played better defense in the second half. Rebounding was also a big factor, we played a little bit smaller, and they were able to out-rebound us by five. Oregon is the number one team in the country for scoring within the first eight seconds of the shot clock, and I think we definitely got hit with that, with the way that they were able to get out and run on us. To be down ten, with about ten minutes to go and to be able to come back and take the lead, was a remarkable thing for these guys and I’m proud of our team.

On being the second-youngest team in the nation…

“A lot of these guys haven’t experienced anything like this, and the only way you gain experience is to go through an experience like this. I give them a lot of credit, for being able to stay in the moment and being able to get back into the game. This is a process, and you’re not going to win a season and you’re not going to get any accolades, by winning one game. As long as our guys understand that we need to learn from it and build on it, our guys are going to wise up and be ready for more games like this in the future.”

Freshman Point Guard Rylan Jones…

On facing Peyton Pritchard…

“It was awesome. He’s a guy who I’ve looked up to my whole life. He came to the pac-12 as a freshman and they went to the final four. I’m trying to be like him. He’s really, really good. I’m trying to be like him.”

On the final play…

“They guarded our little action we ran, and then Timmy had it in iso. He shot a good shot, when he shot it I thought he made it, it looked good. We missed a lot of open shots tonight, we were getting consistent looks and just missing them.”

On the game being a missed opportunity…

“Every game we lose is a missed opportunity. We just have to come back and get ready for the next game. We can’t dwell on it. We’re going to move on and prepare for a really good Colorado team.”

On teammate Both Gach’s career-high game…

“He had a really great game all around for us. When he gets downhill and going, he’s hard to stop. He’s probably the fasted guy in the league from half court to the basket. We used him in pick and roll because he was causing a lot of problems for them, and he made a lot of good plays.”

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Author:

Shane.Roberts

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