Los Angeles • The rebounding failed Utah. It’s not the first time that’s happened this season.
In an 80-66 loss to UCLA, the Utes were once again outrebounded by a bigger and more athletic team. Once again, Utah gave an opponent second and third opportunities, surrendering second-chance points. Once again, the Utes were left searching for answers to their absent physicality.
“They have some players,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “They hit some shots and got to the free-throw line. Most of all, they hurt us with some second chance opportunities.”
The Utes were outrebounded 38-29. Their biggest body — 7-footer Dallin Bachynski — failed to get a board in his 15 minutes on the floor. Jordan Loveridge, the team leader in rebounds, grabbed four in 25 foul-plagued minutes, and Delon Wright led Utah with six.
Heading into this week against Arizona and Arizona State, the Utes will be facing two teams that rebound the ball extremely well. In what will be two of the more important games of the season, the No. 2 Wildcats are one of the best rebounding teams in the country and proved that emphatically in a 65-56 win over Utah a few weeks ago in Tucson.
Krystkowiak tried a big lineup with Renan Lenz pairing with Bachynski and Jeremy Olsen, but that didn’t work because the Utes turned the ball over offensively. Krystkowiak tried playing Marko Kovacevic for a few minutes, but he was ineffective as well.
Loveridge has always been a good rebounder, but he’s still 6-foot-6, and that puts him at a disadvantage most nights at power forward.
“When you’re playing a team like UCLA, the margin for error is pretty slim,” Krystkowiak said. “You have to get stops and you have to finish those stops by getting the rebound. We didn’t do that.”
Following the loss to UCLA, players were disappointed. Saturday represented an opportunity for Utah to eclipse the .500 mark in Pac-12 for the first time. Not being able to get that done caused the trip to end in a down note for the Utes.
“It sucks leaving like this,” Loveridge said. “We weren’t satisfied splitting on this trip. We thought we could beat this team, so we’re disappointed. The second half, their guys just scored and made plays.”
Arizona at Utah
P Wednesday, 8 p.m.
TV • Fox Sports 1