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Utah basketball: Utes' shooting touch deserts them

Published January 13, 2014 7:04 pm

Men's basketball • Utah off target vs. Huskies, Cougars.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

It's almost as if someone has come in and kidnapped Utah's perimeter shooters.

How else can you explain the output in the last week? How else can you explain the putrid statistics?

In two games, the Utes have gone from one of the best shooting teams in the country to one of the worst. In two games, Utah's gone 3-of-29 from 3-point range. That's right. Out of 29 attempts from beyond the arc, the Utes have missed 26 of them.

That's why Utah is 0-2 on this season's first road trip through the Pac-12, with losses by two and three points, culminating in a 49-46 defeat at Washington State on Sunday. The fact that the Utes had chances and perhaps should have beaten both Washington and WSU speaks to how good defensively Larry Krystkowiak's team is.

But the shooting numbers are real and they are ugly. And it has left behind a wake of confusion, because Utah had been a good shooting team in the preceding two months.

"It's the million dollar question," Krystkowiak said. "The offense has certainly been behind the defense in terms of production these last couple of games."

The drought has hit everyone outside of Delon Wright — who rarely shoots from the perimeter. But it has hit three starters — Brandon Taylor, Dakarai Tucker and Jordan Loveridge — especially hard.

Taylor enjoyed a career day — 23 points and eight assists — in the Jan. 4 home win over Oregon State. This past week, his shooting has been nothing short of nightmarish. He shot a combined 2-of-18 in the two losses, and missed all four of his 3-point attempts against Washington State on Sunday.

Tucker missed all three of his attempts from beyond the arc and went 2-of-6 against the Cougars. With those two off, the lanes have been clogged for the Utah players who like to slash to the basket. Loveridge — who does a little of both — went 3-of-11 against WSU. He mitigated some of that by getting to the line 10 times on his way to a game-high 15 points. Still, the sophomore forward missed a lot of shots he normally makes.

"I don't really have an answer for it," Taylor said. "We just have to go back to practice and get some shots up. We have to brush it off and get ready for USC. There's really no answer to it."

Outside of Jeremy Olsen, Utah doesn't have a player who can regularly get points in the paint. That puts the onus on the Utes perimeter shooters to make shots. There are enough of them that someone is usually hot on most given nights. But the last two games show what can happen if all of them are off on the same night.

tjones@sltrib.com

on twitter: @tjonessltrib —

Brrr

• Utah shooters are 3-of-29 from 3-point range in the last two games.

• Brandon Taylor is 2-of-18 from the field in his last two games.

• Utah went 4-of-20 from the field in the second half of Sunday's loss to Washington State. —

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