Utah basketball: Utes open Pac-12 play with historically bad loss
Boulder, Colo. • A year ended Saturday, but basketball's calendar provides no such reprieve.
The Utah men have 17 regular-season games remaining in their inaugural year in the Pac-12, and even after a 73-33 loss against their administratively mandated rival, no depth of futility appears out of reach for the Utes.
The team that had already lost three games by at least 30 points this season lost its first by 40. It scored its fewest points in a game since 1947.
The team's most reliable scorer, Josh Watkins, managed only four points, while the Utah defense allowed four Colorado players to reach double figures.
All that said, this wasn't the worst loss in program history it was four points off.
All this against the team picked in the preseason media poll to finish in a 10th-place tie in the Pac-12 one spot ahead of the moribund Utes.
"Embarrassing's a good word," first-year coach Larry Krystkowiak said.
He found many others.
In a closed-door tongue-lashing of his team, Krystkowiak painted the hallways of the Coors Events Center with profanities and disbelief, his words bouncing off the walls like a guard through the paint.
"We're not having any fun," junior Cedric Martin said. "We're putting ourselves in this situation. The coaches are giving us the answers to the test and we're really not applying them like we should be."
On Saturday, that meant the Utes continued their trend of failing to defend on the perimeter. That flaw was exploited 10 seconds into the game when Colorado freshman guard Spencer Dinwiddie hit a 3-pointer from the wing.
Dinwiddie scored 16 of his 19 points in the first half, as the Buffaloes jumped out to a 27-11 halftime lead. But that first 3 stuck with Krystkowiak.
"Look at the first shot of the game," Krystkowiak said. "Pass to the wing and we've got both our guards running to the wrong side in the zone and he hits a 3.
"Welcome to Pac-12 basketball."
Former Ute Carlon Brown scored 10 points for Colorado, but the narrative of a familiar face in a new jersey was obscured by Utah's dysfunction and apparent disinterest.
"Guys aren't locked in," Krystkowiak said, "and it's very disturbing."
After the Utes lost to Weber State on Dec. 22, Krystkowiak talked about separating the preseason from conference play, dubbing them Season 1 and Season 2.
But the latter had more than just a few shades of the former.
"It's been rough," Krystkowiak said. "But this isn't like all the sudden the top of the mountain where we're going to start sliding down the other side."
This season for this team isn't like midnight on New Year's Eve: there's no promise of another side.
"We've got to move on," Krystkowiak said.
Five most lopsided losses in Utah basketball history
Dec. 14, 1934 • Denver AC 60, Utah 16 (44)
Jan. 16, 1943 • Wyoming 68, Utah 25 (43)
Dec. 17, 1988 • Purdue 95, Utah 53 (42)
Dec. 31, 2011 • Colorado 73, Utah 33 (40)
Jan. 2, 1941 • Oregon 51, Utah 15 (36)
Days of '47
The last time the Utes scored so few points was â¦
26 • Wyoming 41, Utah 37, 1947
33 • Colorado 73, Utah 33, 2011
34 • Utah 34, New Mexico 32, 1976