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Utah basketball: Shorthanded Utes get worked at Oregon, 79-61

First Published      Last Updated Feb 17 2017 04:47 pm


Oregon 79, Utah 61 » Without Kuzma, Utes are overmatched.

Eugene, Ore. • Dillon Brooks had finished putting David Collette on a poster, rising over him for a dunk no one could have stopped.

Utah's junior forward shrugged and jogged to the other end of the court, saying only: "I owe you one."

That I.O.U. will have to be served at a later date.

There wasn't much Utah (17-9, 8-6) could do but take one on the chin: They suffered a 79-61 thrashing against No. 7 Oregon with their best player, Kyle Kuzma, unable to take the floor after spraining his ankle in practice.

The Ducks had claimed eight straight wins against the Utes and cruised to a ninth, riding a wild array of dunks, shots with hands in their faces and blocking Utah's shots every which way. They looked every bit the defending Pac-12 champion and the No. 2 seed they were projected last weekend by the NCAA Tournament selection committee.




Utah looked overmatched. But having to play with a hand tied behind its back, the team will try to wash themselves quickly ahead of their next game at last-place Oregon State.

"We're not going to let this game break us down and demoralize, because we have a lot of respect for that team," Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "Just keep battling, and hopefully we'll start clicking a little more."

It got out of hand quickly: Oregon started with a flurry, hitting five of their first six shots. Sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey made each of his first four attempts, hitting the 10-point mark before seven minutes had passed.

The Ducks led by as much as 21 in the first half before Utah managed to close it to 41-25 at the intermission.

Utah's offense floundered midway through the first half as the Ducks got time to get in their zone press, which flustered the Utes' backcourt and stalled them getting down the court. They also fell prey to the Pac-12's best perimeter defense, only hitting 3 for 19 on 3-pointers.

By contrast, Oregon seemed unfazed by contested shots — particularly as Brooks, a consistent star in games against Utah, started to gain steam on the way to a team-best 20 points.

"You don't have much margin for error when you come in this building," Krystkowiak said. "They hit a number of great, tough shots. They actually missed the shots we didn't defend well. Maybe we shouldn't have guarded them at all. The ones they missed were the ones we left them open."

Utah was rarely left open: The team only hit 38.2 percent from the field, the second-worst performance of the season. Despite a lineup shakeup, Utah's guards hit a wall: Starters Sedrick Barefield, Devon Daniels and Parker Van Dyke were a combined 6 for 24.

Even the easy shots were not easy: Utah only had two fast break points, as others were chased down by Jordan Bell (17 points, 5 blocks) or Chris Boucher (5 points, 3 blocks). Bell even caught up with Bonam, Utah's fastest player, once in the second half to deny a layup at the rim.

Utah met other goals as well: They limited themselves to 10 turnovers, winning the turnover margin. They had 14 offensive rebounds, and limited Oregon from getting out in transition aside from points off turnovers. The second half was a closer fight, with Oregon only outscoring the Utes by two points.

There were bright spots in the front court: Freshman Jayce Johnson had a workmanlike performance with Kuzma absent, digging up 14 points and 12 rebounds for his first career double-double. Collette chipped in 12 points, though no other Ute had more than 7 points.

But it was clear Utah missed Kuzma, who leads the Pac-12 with 15 double-doubles. They're hopeful to be whole on Sunday, against a team they'll have a good chance to bounce back against.

"Even though we got killed," Collette said, "there's some things to take away."

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AT A GLANCE

Storylines

R Utes shoot only 38.2 percent against Ducks, blocked 10 times.

» Jayce Johnson leads Utah with 14 points, 12 rebounds.

» Dillon Brooks scores 20 points on 9 for 13 shooting.


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