Utah basketball: Utes slammed by Beavers 77-67
College basketball • Oregon State rolls to 31-point lead, then toys with ‘selfish’ Utah team.
Published: March 3, 2012 12:06AM
Updated: March 2, 2012 10:59PM
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Utah guard Kareem Storey, left, looks to pass against Oregon State guard Ahmad Starks during the first half of their NCAA college basketball game in Corvallis, Ore., Thursday, March 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Corvallis, Ore. • The Pac-12’s leading scorer played nice with the Utes in the first half.

On a fast break, with orange-clad boosters closer to him than any Utah defender, Jared Cunningham gently laid the ball up, disappointing the 3,643 fans at Gill Coliseum.

With 13:19 remaining in the 77-67 blowout win by Oregon State, Cunningham couldn’t resist. He took a bounce pass, slipped past Utah’s Cedric Martin, then a sidestepping Jason Washburn. He jumped, twisted his body 180-degrees — airborne long enough and in the right direction that he could have winked at Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak and blown him a kiss — and finished a reverse, double-pump slam dunk that would have made even NBA slam dunk champion Jeremy Evans applaud.

“It became fun for them,” Washburn said.

Not so for the Utes, who took themselves out of contention early and embarked on a voyage of misery. They didn’t score a field goal in the final 9:22 of the first half and Oregon State, which broke a five-game losing streak with the win, used it to go on a 23-2 run spanning halftime. The Beavers’ lead grew to as much as 31 points.

When Dijon Farr dumped in a layup to break up the run with 17:34 remaining in the second half, he did so humbly. It cut Oregon State’s lead to 43-17.

Yes, in the first half, Utah scored just 15 points.

“We kind of ran the whole gamut of all the different options of how to shoot yourself in the foot in the first half,” Krystkowiak said after the Utes fought just hard enough in the final minutes to nudge the final score toward respectability. “It just wasn’t the kind of basketball that we need to be playing.”

And it wasn’t how they had been playing. The Utes entered the game fresh off an exhilarating 58-57 win over Stanford Saturday in Salt Lake City.

The Utes broke an eight-game losing streak with that victory.

They had not been so thoroughly outplayed by an opponent in weeks. Yet, the result was perfectly familiar.

“Like I always said, losing feels like losing,” Washburn said. “It sucks because we’ve been putting up some tough performances, we’ve been playing teams down to the bitter end, and this one obviously got away from us early. “

The Utes remain winless on the road going into Saturday’s regular season finale 42 miles away in Eugene, where Oregon beat Colorado 90-81 Thursday.

Utah may as well have started preparing for that contest early Thursday evening.

With 9:22 remaining in the first half, Kareem Storey cut through Oregon State’s confounding 1-3-1 trapping defense to score his only basket of the half with 9:22 remaining. The shot pulled the Utes to within 20-13.

Had he known it would be Utah’s last field goal of the half, the Gill Coliseum public address man may have announced it with more enthusiasm.

Or sympathy.

According to Krystkowiak, though, the early blows were all self-inflicted. He called his team “about as selfish in the first half as I’ve seen in a long time.”

“We had a lot of selfish shots,” Krystkowik said. “We took contested jump shots and we took ill-advised shots at the rim.”

The loss locked the Utes into 11th place in the Pac-12, assuring them of a first-round conference tournament matchup with the No. 6 team in the conference. That game will be played March 7 at 9:30 p.m. MT in Los Angeles.

boram@sltrib.com

Twitter: @oramb

Storylines OSU 77, Utah 67

R Utah’s Dijon Farr matches his career high with 16 points.

• The Utes outscore Oregon State 52-41 in the second, but the Beavers lead by as many as 31.