Boulder, Colo. • The mantra of Utah’s season repeated itself once again on Thursday night. Compete. Keep it close. Take an early lead. Lose a tough one at the end.
It’s an almost automatic storyline that reared its head against Colorado at the Coors Event Center. This time, the Buffaloes went on to a 60-50 victory before 9,823 in a game CU had to have.
Once again, the game was a frustrating microcosm of the Utes’ season. Like many of Utah’s road games against the better teams in the Pac-12, one or two tweaks could’ve produced a different result. Instead, it winds up as yet another learning experience that Larry Krystkowiak can hash out with his team over a resulting film session.
“It is frustrating to prepare the way we do and to play hard and to not get what we want out of it,” freshman forward Jordan Loveridge said. “If we had done a few things differently, things may have turned out different. But we didn’t play well enough when we had to in order to get the victory.”
In this case, allowing Colorado to dominate the first five minutes of the second half proved more costly than the Utes could ultimately deal with. The Buffaloes used turnovers and second-chance points to build the lead as high as 11 points with 12 minutes remaining.
But like they have been all season, Krystkowiak’s guys proved resilient. Slowly, the Utes chipped away at the deficit, until they found themselves trailing just 53-48 with two minutes remaining and the ball in hand.
With the opportunity to make it a one-possession game, Jarred DuBois missed a wide-open 3-pointer. Then, on an ensuing fast break, DuBois missed a layup that could’ve cut the Colorado lead to 53-50.
The Buffaloes scored four consecutive points, and the game was all but over at 57-48.
“We had some chances, but we didn’t capitalize,” Krystkowiak said. “We turned the ball over some, and we didn’t play as well at times as we could’ve, and that hurt us a little.”
Utah falls to 11-15 overall with the defeat. Its Pac-12 record dips to 3-11, inching the Utes closer to the Pac-12 cellar.
There were some good performances. Loveridge scored 12 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished a pair of assists in 35 minutes, easily his best effort of the last few weeks. Jason Washburn and Brandon Taylor were solid with 10 points each, although each had their issues with Colorado’s swarming defense. Freshman small forward Dakarai Tucker scored eight points and three steals in 22 minutes, his second consecutive encouraging effort.
But where the Utes have guys trying to establish themselves, the Buffaloes have bona fide Pac-12 stars. Junior forward Andre Roberson scored 10 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, solidifying his status as the best rebounder in the country. Spencer Dinwiddie — a 6-foot-6 point guard — scored 13 points and got into the lane at will down the stretch.
Those two carried Colorado, a team that knew exactly where points and shots were going to come from when needed. As of now, Utah is not that team, and it showed in big situations.
“Spencer kind of took over in the second half, and we needed to play him better,” Loveridge said. “There’s nothing for us to do but get better. We have to win some games.”
Storylines Utes lose Pac-12 game
R Utah falls to 11-15 on the season, 3-11 in the Pac-12.
• The Utes surrender an 11-0 run early in the second half.
• Jordan Loveridge leads the Utes with 12 points and seven rebounds.