Eugene, Ore. • Many Utah fans can circle Cedric Martin’s technical foul — during a six-point Oregon run at the beginning of the second half — as a turning point in the Utes’ 73-64 loss to the No. 19 Ducks on Saturday night.
Surrendering 51 points in the second half certainly did nothing for Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak’s mood down the stretch. He incurred a late technical foul and was promptly jeered by 9,041 at Matthew Knight Arena.
But the two numbers that did the Utes in happen to be 41 and 19. The former represents Oregon’s rebounding total. The latter belongs to Utah.
Rebounding seems to be such a simple thing, yet it leads directly to the win-loss column. On a day where the Utes played exceptional basketball for a half, the inability to grab loose balls became their undoing.
“As a big man, it’s all on me,” senior center Jason Washburn said. “We didn’t box out well enough and we didn’t go and get rebounds nearly enough. It definitely hurt us tonight.”
The numbers are damaging. Oregon grabbed as many offensive rebounds as Utah did total. One Duck player — Arsalan Kazemi — outrebounded Krystkowiak’s entire frontcourt. Whenever the Utes seemingly were able to get a stop, an Oregon player would swoop in from nowhere and get a putback.
As a result, Utah falls to 10-13 on the season — 2-9 in the Pac-12. Last season, the Utes were able to squeeze out three conference wins. With the schedule not easing up anytime soon, this edition of Utah basketball seems hard-pressed to eclipse that feat.
The Utes’ challenge ahead is a big one. They have the task of keeping their fan base interested in the last month of the regular season. While the losing has been frustrating, so are the signs of progress with nothing tangible to show for it.
For instance, Saturday’s first half showed a Utah team fully capable of pulling off the big road upset, as the Utes took a 30-22 lead into intermission. Not only that, a freshman class that’s progressed has produced building blocks for the future in Jordan Loveridge and Brandon Taylor.
“At times, we had four freshmen on the court,” Krystkowiak said. “We are going to get this thing going. We know that we’re making progress. The kids played really well, I was proud of the effort. We fought and we scrapped and we clawed away at this thing tonight. We just made a few mistakes and it cost us.”
After being blown out against Oregon State on Wednesday, Utah played much better on Saturday night. Washburn scored 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Loveridge scored all 14 of his points in the first half, and Jarred DuBois scored 15 points and handed out five assists. But Oregon fought its way to the free-throw line at will in the second half. The Ducks took 30 foul shots after halftime.
Oregon’s E.J. Singler scored a game-high 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Freshman Damyean Dotson scored 14 of his 16 points after halftime.
“I thought they should’ve gone to the monitor and looked at the play over again,” Krystkowiak said. “It was certainly a turning point. But I’m not one to burn the referees. They have a job to do, and it’s a tough job so we certainly respect what they do.”
Storylines U. loses on road
R Oregon outscores Utah 51-34 in the second half.
• Arsalan Kazemi scores 11 points and grabs 14 rebounds for the Ducks.
• Utah drops to 10-13 on the season.