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Utah basketball: Trend of offensive droughts continues in loss to Cal

Published January 15, 2012 12:41 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Berkeley, Calif. • No offense, but...

Isn't that just the story of the Utes' struggles?

Utah hid its offensive woes in recent games by making timely shots and playing well enough defensively to bring opponents down to its own level. In the 81-45 loss at California on Saturday, however, the Utes had their third-worst shooting night of the season, making just 34.7 of their shots.

These Utes are not, and likely will not be, a noted scoring team. They entered Saturday's game ranked 331st in the country in points per game (57.4). The appalling trend, however, is the Utes' habit of going long stretches without scoring.

Against Stanford on Thursday, the Utes had two scoreless spans that exceeded six minutes. In Berkeley it was worse: A stretch of 9:36 without a field goal, allowing the Golden Bears to go on an 18-1 run and take a 24-10 lead with 4:58 remaining in the first half.

"Sometimes I think, as a team, we get a little stagnant," Jason Washburn said. "We go on stretches where we try to do everything ourselves. That's not one individual person, that's everybody."

Josh Watkins led the Utes on Saturday with 15 points, but he needed 14 shots to get them. Washburn, meanwhile, was 4-of-11 from the field and scored nine points. It played right into Cal's hands.

"Utah has had difficulty shooting the ball this year," Golden Bears coach Mike Montgomery said. "That has been their Achilles' heel, and tonight pointed that out."

Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak, who spend four years playing under Montgomery at Montana in the 1980s, said he knew, without watching the game on film, what the Utes' problem was.

They weren't making open shots. The only way to make better shooters, Krystkowiak said, is repetition in practice.

"At the end of the day, when you get open shots against a good defensive team," he said, "they have to go in. Otherwise, you get those runs where you don't score."

boram@sltrib.com

Twitter: @oramb