The problem isn’t physical.
Utah knows it is a good team. The Utes know they can walk into Boulder and play with Colorado next Saturday. They know they can compete with any team in the Pac-12. So the question won’t be whether Utah can physically match up.
Utah at ColoradoSaturday, noon
TV » Pac-12 Networks
The question is mental. From the shoulder up. The Utes haven’t won a road game this season in five tries. They’ve lost two consecutive games overall and they are sitting at 3-5 in Pac-12 play.
If Utah is going to turn things around, Colorado would be an excellent place to start. But will the losses linger?
Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak shook his head and said no.
"I would be surprised if it impacts the guys any," he said. "We have a strong group and a resilient group. These guys have high character and they will be ready to go. The losing hurts, but I also think the guys will be where they need to be mentally by next Saturday."
Utah is coming off a 65-56 defeat at No. 1 Arizona on Sunday, a loss in which the Utes were competitive for the first 31 minutes and wilted in the last nine. Much like last season, Utah has had chances to win almost every game on the road, but still hasn’t gotten it done.
Against the Wildcats, Jordan Loveridge and Delon Wright both went cold at the wrong time, missing shots down the stretch and not maximizing possessions. Wright scored 19 points and grabbed six rebounds, but shot 5-of-12 from the field.
Loveridge scored 13 points, but went 4-of-14 against the long arms of Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Both had an effect on Loveridge.
"We’re hurting now, a little down right now. But we’re confident that we’re going to bounce back," sophomore forward Dakarai Tucker said. "We know what kind of team we are and we know we’re capable."
That’s the attitude that allowed Utah last season to run off four wins in the last five games and advance to the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament. The Utes have shown that same kind of resiliency this season, consistently battling back from deficits and being competitive when they could’ve easily packed it in.
Coming off Thursday’s loss to Arizona State, many predicted Utah to be blown out on Sunday by the top team in the country. Instead, Utah gave the Wildcats all they could handle.
Now — after a difficult stretch — how much does Krystkowiak’s team have left for Colorado?
We will soon find out.
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.