Los Angeles • The Utes were bad in all of the most annoying categories Thursday against UCLA: 3-point shooting, turnovers, assists, post defense.
But coach Larry Krystkowiak targeted one broad aspect of his team’s performance in the 76-49 loss. Throughout this 5-15 season, Utah’s subpar offense has begrudgingly been accepted as a product of a mishmash of undertalented players.
Storylines UCLA 76, Utah 49Three players score at least 13 points to lead the Bruins, led by 14 from center Joshua Smith.
» The Utes are led by junior guard Chris Hines, who scores 13 points, but no other player tallies more than six.
Thursday, however, the Utes weren’t only bad. They were selfish.
"We were going to try to beat them with one-on-one moves that we don’t possess," the first-year coach said.
When Krystkowiak kicked point guard Josh Watkins off the team last week, he also dismissed any notions of a one-man offensive force carrying Utah (5-15, 2-6). The Utes, he said, would rely on passing and sharing, and multiple players would need to pick up the scoring slack.
It didn’t happen against the Bruins (11-9, 4-4), a struggling-but-talented bunch that was picked to win the Pac-12 in the preseason.
Instead, the Utes finished with just seven assists. Only Chris Hines, who led the Utes with 13, scored more than six points. The Utes shot 37 percent from the field and 31 percent from 3-point range.
Hardly the statistics of a team embracing a new offensive philosophy.
"I know we’ve got our deficiencies offensively," Krystkowiak said, "but at least we’ve tried to do it collectively. And today it just was like from the point guard right on to the center, guys catching the ball and doing things that weren’t characteristic and trying to make one-on-one moves against a pretty athletic team."
While the Utes struggled offensively, the Bruins rediscovered their strength. They pounded the ball to the post, getting 14 points and five rebounds from 6-foot-10, 305-pound center Josh Smith.
Smith, from Kent, Wash., exerted his force against Washburn, who, while the Utes’ only legitimate big man, was forced to resort to slapping fouls.
Washburn simply said that the Utes did not have the effort that has been the hallmark of their relative resurgence, which included a 21-point home victory against Arizona State on Saturday.
"There’s a correlation," he said. "Every time we don’t play the way we need to play to win, things like this happen."
UCLA fell to mediocre, but not against the Utes.
The Bruins improved to 4-4 at games played at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, a temporary home while historic Pauley Pavilion undergoes a staggering $136 million in renovations.
Utah hung with the Bruins early, thanks to 3-point baskets by Hines and Dijon Farr, but UCLA answered with a six-point run that put it up 17-11.
It turned out to be a modest run compared with what it had in store.
Starting with 6:35 remaining in the first half, UCLA went on a 25-10 run that stretched beyond halftime and, by the 15:40 mark of the second half, had opened a 47-27 lead.
The Bruins took advantage. Smith hugged, passed and looped them toward the rim, and Tylen Wear soared to finish sequences with alley-oop dunks.
The Bruins got 35 points from their three primary post players, while the Utes’ four forwards combined for just 13 points.Next Page >
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