Eugene, Ore. • If the Utes fall to pieces on a court designed to look like a forest, does it really make a difference?
Does anyone care? Does it matter that the Utes lost 94-48 to Oregon in the most lopsided of 917 losses in 104 years of basketball?
Storylines Oregon 94, Utah 48Jason Washburn scores a career-high 26 points, but the Utes can’t recover from early 34-2 deficit.
» On Senior Day at Oregon, five Ducks score in double figures, led by Devoe Joseph’s 21 points.
» The Utes will play Colorado in the first of the NCAA Tournament at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday. The game is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. MST.
Jason Washburn’s eyelids drooped into a trough that somehow held back tears. Those pink, stubborn eyes said that he cared, but not even his career-high 26 points was enough to do anything about it.
"It all sucks," Washburn said. "I got no other term for it."
Utah (6-24, 3-15 Pac-12) completed on Saturday a regular season in which they went from bad to better and back again.
It was bookended by historic losses: a 40-point defeat at Colorado on New Year’s Eve, and a 46-point loss here.
"We lost at Colorado like that because we rolled over and laid down," Washburn said, "never really gave them a fight back, and they got us. It’s kind of the same right here."
Now, all that remains of the worst season in program history is next week’s Pac-12 Tournament. The Utes learned Saturday that they will play Colorado once again in what feels like the hoops equivalent of the ninth inning in a 30-1 baseball game.
The Utes fell behind so swiftly in the first half that they never had any chance of recovery. On Senior Day at Matthew Knight Arena, the Ducks put on an astonishing shooting exhibition. Devoe Joseph made his first shot, and Cedric Martin shot an air ball on Utah’s first possession.
And so it went.
For nearly 14 minutes it went that way, with the Utes missing badly — when they didn’t turn it over first — and Joseph, the transfer from Minnesota, shaking free on the other end for jumpers.
When Joseph didn’t take the shot, E.J. Singler, Garrett Sim, Carlos Emory and Tyrone Nared did.
Oregon led 34-2 before the Utes could make their second basket, a 16-foot jumper by Anthony Odunsi that drew some of the most enthusastic applause of the game.
By halftime, the Ducks (22-8, 13-15) led 52-14, and Joseph and Emory combined to shoot 10-for-10 from the floor, including 4-of-4 on 3-pointers. Oregon finished with 15 3s, while Joseph finished with 21 points and Emory added 19.
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said a stronger second half was "palatable," although the Utes still allowed large runs and stunning plays. With 10:06 remaining, Olu Ashaolu dunked over 6-foot-6 Utah forward Javon Dawson. As in, he jumped over him to dunk.
What’s one more highlight?
"I didn’t want to walk out of this building feeling like we did at Colorado where we quit," he said.
But the overall sentiment didn’t appear to be any better than that night in Boulder. Chris Hines, usually the most thoughtful Ute, even after losses, boiled his assessment down to four words.
"We didn’t show up," he said.
But a team can’t lose by 46 if it doesn’t show up. And it can’t fall apart on a court designed to look like a forest.
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