Utes can't hang with Aztecs this time
San Diego • The majority of the Runnin' Utes had never played at San Diego State before Tuesday's game. They have to be glad the first experience is likely to be their last.
Surely none of them ever want to replicate the dismal outing that the 85-53 loss was in front of 12,414 at Viejas Arena.
The Utes (10-14, 3-7) gave San Diego State (24-1, 9-1) a decent game earlier in the year losing 71-62 and never trailing by more than 12 points. Playing one of the country's best teams respectably made the Utes feel they were on the right track even if they lost.
Tuesday's game left Utah with a much different feeling, like the Utes had been tied to the track and run over a few times.
Billy White and D.J. Gay led the Aztecs with 15 points apiece while Will Clyburn had 18 points and eight rebounds for the Utes, who trailed by as much as 34 points.
A hostile crowd that was on its feet and tormenting the Utes from the start played a part in Utah's struggles, center David Foster and coach Jim Boylen said.
"We got off to such a bad start and guys got tentative and reluctant," Boylen said. "We reacted to the crowd. Again, we have five guys who have never been here before and we struggled."
The crowd started off with chants of "Show no mercy," and ended the night with "Boylen is fired." The personal taunts got to Foster, he said, but he could do little in response as the Utes were outscored 50-30 in the paint.
Foster had four points, eight rebounds and four blocks as he and backup Jason Washburn struggled to find any room inside against the Aztecs.
"Them chanting something personal about coach, because he gets so much respect and love from us as players, that gives me more motivation to work harder and protect the man who is protecting us as players each and every day," Foster said.
The loss extended Utah's losing streak to four games. In contrast to Saturday's defeat when the Utes struggled against Air Force's slow tempo, this time the Utes couldn't keep up with the quick Aztecs, who pushed the ball from the start.
The Utes knew San Diego State's duo of Malcolm Thomas and Kawhi Leonard would be difficult to handle, but the Utes struggled in other areas, too.
Guards Chris Kupets and Josh Watkins combined for six turnovers and four assists and Foster and Washburn were helpless against San Diego State's 6-foot-11 Brian Carlwell, who came off the bench for 10 points, three rebounds and two blocks.
Perhaps more disturbing than anything for the Utes is the downward trend of their offense. The Utes, averaging 69.6 points for the season going into Tuesday's game, haven't hit that mark since beating TCU 75-62 on Jan. 22, their last win.
Utah coach Jim Boylen took over the offense this year because he was unhappy with the stagnant play last season when the Utes averaged 66.4 points a game.
His goal was for the Utes to average 71 points. With six games to go in the regular season including Saturday's visit to BYU, the Utes don't have much time to get their offense going and turn their fortunes for the better.
"I thought our opponents have been very good but I don't know why we aren't making free throws, why we aren't making layups or open shots," Boylen said. "I don't know why. I just keep evaluating and looking at it."
R In short • San Diego State completes a sweep of the Utes, who lose their fourth game in a row.
Key stat • Josh Watkins and Chris Kupets combine for 10 points and six turnovers, with four assists, in the loss.
Utah's recent offensive slide
Opponent Outcome Score Utah shooting
vs. CSU Loss 74-68 28 of 60
vs. UNLV Loss 67-54 17 of 57
vs. Air Force Loss 54-49 17 of 43
vs. SDSU Loss 85-53 22 of 62