Utah basketball: Utes say they're still learning after 80-59 loss at Boise State
Boise, Idaho • It was a learning experience.
If there was one thing Utah's men's basketball team could say after their 80-59 shellacking at Boise State, it was that.
The Utes couldn't defend the 3-point line, notably when freshman Anthony Drmic, who made five 3-pointers, glued himself to it. So, Utah now knows it needs to increase its effort to close out shooters.
"We'll work at it tomorrow," point guard Josh "Jiggy" Watkins said. "It's a learning experience."
"I feel we played hard to the end," Watkins said. "It's a learning experience."
Without breaking for a breath or another question, Watkins continued, "We've got a lot of new guys. It's a learning experience."
Beyond that, there wasn't much the Utes could take away from their loss to the Broncos, who, too, entered the year burdened by high turnover and low expectations. Boise State, with 11 new players on its roster from a year ago, was picked last in the Mountain West Conference's preseason poll.
"We're picked last, too," first-year Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "Apparently the Mountain West Conference is 20 points better than the Pac-12."
Boise State opened the game with a 3-point basket by Drmic. From there, the chase for the lead played out like a parent teaching a child to swim in the deep end.
Whenever the Utes seemed to be making progress, Boise State had moved further away.
The Utes fell behind 39-20 by halftime and scored only six points in the first 8:24 of the second half, but played the Broncos much closer over the final 11 minutes. After being outscored by 19 in the first half, Utah scored just two fewer points than Boise State in the second.
That was thanks in no small measure to Anthony Odunsi, the freshman from Houston, who made his first career start. Odunsi finished with 14 points, second only to Watkins, who led the Utes with 19 points. Dijon Farr added 12.
"I thought Anthony Odunsi looked pretty comfortable on the floor," Krystkowiak said. "certainly on the offensive end."
"It's all a learning experience," Odunsi said. "I've been working hard in practice every day just to prove myself to coach. I feel like just cause I scored a couple points doesn't mean I've done anything."
Drmic led all scorers with 23 points and the Broncos combined to shoot 10-of-18 from the 3-point line.
Krystkowiak said the game was a microcosm of all the issues the Utes face. Like in Whac-A-Mole, when they took care of one, another popped up.
"Once we got the 3-point shooters squared away," Krystkowiak said, then the other guys on the scouting report, that were penetrators, for whatever reason we wanted to overguard them."
R Utah falls to 1-1 after never leading against the Mountain West Conference's Broncos.
• Boise State leads by as much as 28 points in the second half before the Utes respond.