Utah basketball: Two poor stretches doom Utes in first real road test
Dallas • Utah's 62-55 loss to SMU on Wednesday night isn't complicated.
In fact, the Utes' demise can be traced rather easily.
Utah found itself done in by two offensive droughts, one in each half. The first turned a 25-24 lead into a 35-25 deficit. And the one in the second half ended with the Utes trailing 46-39, a hole they would never climb out of.
"We didn't shoot the ball very well and we didn't stay poised when the crowd got going," Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "We have to go back and figure out a way to work through the tough spots. We do that, and we'll be alright."
What the loss to the Mustangs proved is that the road is a different animal in college basketball. For five games, Utah has played in the comfortable cocoon of the Huntsman Center. Against SMU, the Utes were forced to deal with crowd noise, unforgiving officiating and hostile surroundings for the first time this season.
They didn't react well.
"We tied the game on a jumper in the second half, and you can tell by the looks on their faces that they were ready to get into us on the defensive end," Krystkowiak said. "We didn't play well when they turned the heat up defensively. That's something that we have to correct down the line."
Utah shot 10 of 29 from the field in the first half, and 6 of 14 in the final 20 minutes. The second half was better, but it wasn't nearly enough. Utah turned the ball over 14 times, and registered just 11 assists. Jarred DuBois was the only Ute to shoot well while taking more than a handful of shots.
Dallin Bachynski and Jason Washburn were forces last week during Utah's Thanksgiving tournament. But the two scored five combined points against the Mustangs and proved not to be a factor.
"We just have to come out and play better against Texas State," senior forward Cedric Martin said. "We didn't play with the toughness we needed to win. But we'll go back and we'll learn from this. The road is just different."