Utah basketball: Utes lament mistakes in loss to Arizona
Most will look at the missed free throws.
Some will remember the turnovers, or the rushed shots at inopportune times. Even more will examine Jordan Loveridge and his tough all-around night.
It's difficult to single out a major reason for Utah leaving the Huntsman Center on Wednesday night with a 67-63 defeat at the hands of No. 4 Arizona, the top team in the Pac-12. It's true that the loss may be defined by Brandon Taylor an 86 percent foul shooter missing four free throws in overtime. But Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak cautions against the blame game. The defeat was a team effort, and he made sure everyone knows it.
"I think we're over it," Krystkowiak said. "It's about the next practice and the next game that we need to focus on. We're very disappointed, but the world doesn't stop turning. It's still a game and we still have a great group of guys, and we've hopefully got a number of games ahead of us. We've got to put it all behind us."
At the same time, Krystkowiak says the practices leading up to Sunday's matchup against Arizona State will focus on the major letdown areas against Arizona. For instance, Utah turned the ball over 18 times and had just 13 assists. Many of those miscues such as Delon Wright throwing the ball out of bounds with 35 seconds remaining in OT were crucial and turned out to be fatal.
More importantly, the Utes lost track of the time and the score twice, and it came back to bite them in a big way. Holding the ball for what should've been the final possession of the first half, Wright made his move too early, missed a dunk and Jordin Mayes of the Wildcats hit a desperation 3-pointer to end the half. The shot was eventually ruled no good, but Utah almost surrendered three needless points.
Deep in the second half, holding a two-point lead, Taylor took a rushed 3-pointer with 25 seconds remaining on the shot clock. To be fair to Taylor, had he made it, Utah would've been up five, the Huntsman Center would've been rocking and the Utes may well have won the game. But he missed, and Arizona came right back and scored. That opened Taylor up for criticism, maybe even more than his missed free throws.
"It's disappointing to all of us," junior center Dallin Bachynski said. "It's disheartening on many levels, but we are together and we've done pretty well shaking off losses like this. Oregon comes to mind. Coming out and having good practices is a big thing for us. That's what we're going to have to do in order to be ready for Arizona State."
The Utes are in desperate need of a win against the Sun Devils. That means playing mistake-free basketball, and it means taking advantage at the free-throw line. Usually, Krystkowiak makes his team take foul shots following every shootaround. He didn't do that on Wednesday afternoon, and Utah went on to go 13 for 22 from the stripe. It's something he readily took the blame for following one of the toughest defeats of the season.
"We're starting sophomores, so I'm not sure where the expectation is when we talk about these close games," Krystkowiak said. "Hopefully, when we're juniors and seniors, we an figure it all out. It's about learning and maturing."
Utah vs. Arizona State
O Sunday, 6 p.m.
TV • ESPNU