Pullman, Wash. • Much like a snowball rolling downhill, it's all spiraling out of control too fast for Utah to put it back together.
You can chalk Wednesday's 75-65 loss to Washington State up as another defeat in the Pac-12 Conference. It's the fifth league loss in a row for the Utes, the sixth overall, and a game in which Utah never held a lead in Beasley Coliseum.
It's a loss that puts Larry Krystkowiak's team below .500 for the first time this season. It's a loss to a Cougars team that entered Wednesday night with an 0-3 conference mark. It's a defeat that was never in doubt, with Washington State holding as much as a 47-31 advantage before coasting to victory.
Utah is running out of answers.
"It's the same old story," Jason Washburn said. "At some point, we have to stop playing from behind. We have to come out as the aggressor, and until we do that we're going to keep struggling. Nobody is going to quit or give up. We all know that we're a better team than this. We have a great coaching staff that's giving us everything we need to win games. At some point, this is on us, the players."
Krystkowiak met with his players individually on Monday. That afternoon in practice and in Tuesday's practice, he implored his players to take better care of the basketball, to play a cleaner offensive game.
Utah then committed 17 turnovers on Wednesday.
Washington State turned that into 28 points. Then, a Cougars team that has struggled to make outside shots hit 11 of 20 from 3-point range. They immediately hit a trio of shots from beyond the arc to take a 9-2 lead. The Utes crept within 9-5. The lead never got below six points for the remainder of the game.
"We just have to be better with the ball," Krystkowiak said. "We turned the ball over too much, we couldn't make outlet passes, and we didn't play well enough."
There was some good news. Frustrated by his starters, Krysktowiak played his freshmen for the majority of the second half. As a result, little-used point guard Brandon Taylor entered and played his best game of the season, producing 13 points, grabbing three rebounds and handing out three assists. Freshman shooting guard Justin Seymour, on his 19th birthday, scored 11 points off the bench. He grabbed five rebounds and handed out five assists. Jordan Loveridge again struggled with his shot, but he led Utah with seven rebounds and had four assists.
Still, it wasn't enough to offset WSU. Cougars big man Brock Motum scored 14 points, but was held relatively in check for most of the game. But Michael Ladd took over, scoring a game-high 22 points. All five Washington State starters scored in double digits, and the Cougars toed the free-throw line 24 times. It all adds up to another loss for the Utes, more momentum for the snowball, which began with that devastating defeat to Cal State Northridge, a game in which Utah led by 21 points at halftime.
The question surrounding the Utah program is this: Where does the snowball stop? Where does the win come that halts the negativity?
At this point, nobody knows.
Washington State 75, Utah 65
O Washington State makes 11 of 20 shots from 3-point range.
• Utah turns the ball over 17 times and has just 15 assists.
• The Utes lose their sixth consecutive game.
More coverage • WSU's hot shooting catches Utah off guard. âº D4
Wash. State 75, Utah 65
UTAH (8-9) • Loveridge 2-10 2-2 8, Washburn 5-8 0-0 10, Dean 1-2 0-0 2, DuBois 3-8 2-2 9, Martin 0-2 1-2 1, Seymour 3-5 4-5 11, Lenz 1-1 0-0 2, Taylor 4-6 2-2 13, Tucker 2-2 0-0 5, Bachynski 0-2 0-0 0, Olsen 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 23-50 11-13 65.
WASHINGTON ST. (10-7) • Motum 5-12 3-4 14, Shelton 3-4 3-5 10, Ladd 7-12 3-4 22, Lacy 3-8 2-4 10, Woolridge 4-7 5-7 14, DiIorio 0-0 0-0 0, Hunter 0-0 0-0 0, Longrus 0-0 0-0 0, Kernich-Drew 2-5 0-0 5. Totals 24-48 16-24 75. HalftimeWashington St. 34-26. 3-Point GoalsUtah 8-17 (Taylor 3-4, Loveridge 2-5, Tucker 1-1, Seymour 1-3, DuBois 1-3, Martin 0-1), Washington St. 11-20 (Ladd 5-8, Lacy 2-5, Motum 1-1, Shelton 1-1, Woolridge 1-1, Kernich-Drew 1-4). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsUtah 29 (Loveridge 7), Washington St. 26 (Motum 8). AssistsUtah 15 (Seymour 5), Washington St. 10 (Woolridge 5). Total FoulsUtah 17, Washington St. 14. TechnicalUtah Bench. A4,240.