Keys to breaking a losing streak
There's no shame in losing two consecutive road games in a conference as difficult as the Pac-12. But for Utah, losing two in the manner it did - against winnable teams - is pretty excruciating.
So with USC coming to the Huntsman Center tonight - in the annual blackout game - here are some of the things that need to be done if the Utes would like to get back into the win column.
1) Control the paint - USC's center is 7-foot-2 Omar Oraby, who is every bit as big as he is listed and plays like a seven-footer would. He's good with his back to the basket, he's good at taking up space in the paint and he's good at offensive rebounding. He's not great defensively and he doesn't run the floor well. All signs point to Utah center Dallin Bachynski getting increased time - if not actually starting in place of Jeremy Olsen. How he stands up to Oraby will be a big key.
2) Make shots - It's such a simple part of the game, but it's the most important part. The Utes owe their losing streak to an inability to do just this, because had they hit even a few shots, they would probably be 3-1 in the Pac-12 right now, instead of 1-3. Brandon Taylor and Dakarai Tucker both need to show up with their jumpers. It's a must for Utah to win.
3) Avoid the droughts - Much of the Utes offensive ineptitude this past week has been defined by prolonged droughts where they can't find the basket. They went the final six minutes without a field goal in losing Sunday to Washington State. They did the same in the defeat at Washington last Wednesday. Tonight - especially at home - they have to find a way to avoid this.
4) Weather the JT explosion - JT Terrell can go for 30 on you if a team isn't careful. He's USC's most explosive scorer, and he has the shot and the athleticism to cause Utah headaches. He's going to get his regardless - he shoots way to much not to score. Utah has to find a way to not let him take over the game, however.
5) Regain the mojo - Until last week, Utah was one of the top scoring teams in the country. And then last week hit and now we see the Utes in a new light. This is the opportunity to change the narrative again. USC is a team who will score 100 if they can. They will run, they will shoot a lot and they won't play much defense on the other end. In short, this is a game where Utah can break out of its offensive slump.