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Utah basketball: Utes fall to Colorado, still winless on road in Pac-12

Published February 1, 2014 11:02 pm

Pac-12 basketball • U. squanders 12-point, second-half lead.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Boulder, Colo. • Normally, Brandon Taylor is one of the most engaging players on Utah's roster. The sophomore guard is always a good quote, and as a result, the media consistently turn to him for insight.

It should speak to the level of frustration for the Utes that most of Taylor's answers on Saturday afternoon were monosyllabic, or at best, a sentence long. He hung his head when he talked and never removed his headphones when addressing his reporters. He simply wanted to be somewhere else.

Utah fell at Colorado on Saturday, a 79-75 overtime heartbreaker at the Coors Events Center that could've — perhaps should've — ended with a victory. But the Utes found yet another way to let a win out of their grasp away from the Huntsman Center, blowing a double-digit road lead for a third consecutive game.

"I just … don't have any answers right now," Taylor said quietly.

The numbers on the road are getting ugly. It's the 11th consecutive defeat for Utah away from the Huntsman Center. Utah is 0-6 this season in games decided by four points or less. The seven overall losses this season are by a combined 26 points. The Utes are 1-22 all-time on the road in the Pac-12.

Of all the tough luck, of all the bounces that haven't gone Utah's way, this loss may inflict the deepest wound. The Utes controlled the first half, taking the lead with an 18-5 run midway and looking like a team fully capable of exorcising the road demons. They led by as much as 47-35 in the final 20 minutes, playing so well that some fans booed the home team.

But like so many nights, the Utes couldn't handle prosperity. So despite playing well for 35 minutes, in spite of Taylor forcing overtime with a 25-footer late, Utah played the entire extra session from behind and came up short.

Again.

"It's hard, and it's frustrating, but the guys in that locker room will be better because of it," Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "We didn't play as well as we needed to, and we didn't do the things we needed in order to finish this thing off."

Allowing Colorado to rally was a team effort for Utah. There was Jordan Loveridge with a curiously passive performance, scoring just four points and grabbing four rebounds in 38 minutes on 2-for-11 shooting. Delon Wright was the best player on the floor for large stretches, but two costly turnovers down the stretch hurt.

And then there was the rebounding. That's where the game was won by the Buffaloes, who simply beat the Utes up in the trenches with a 42-24 advantage. Time and again, Utah would force a miss, only to see a Colorado player clean the miss up, score, or get fouled. Time and again, a 50-50 ball would roll on the floor, and a Buffalo player would get to it first.

Clearly, the Buffaloes — playing without star guard Spencer Dinwiddie — were a desperate team on Saturday. And if Utah did one thing wrong, it's the fact that it didn't match that collective desperation.

"Holy cow, we needed that one," Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. "We needed that one bad. I think our guys really responded tonight, especially when we fell down by 12 in the second half. I just loved the way we competed tonight."

Wright and Taylor carried the Utes offensively, Wright with his overall brilliance and Taylor with his shooting. Utah overall went 11-24 from 3-point range and had 21 assists and nine steals, which made up in large part for the rebound disadvantage.

Josh Scott led Colorado with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Askia Booker had 18 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

tjones@sltrib.com

Storylines

O Utah loses a double-digit lead on the road for the third straight time.

• Utah falls to 14-7 overall, 3-6 in Pac-12 play.

• Delon Wright leads Utah with 17 points, 11 assists and seven steals.