Utah had hoped to use the Wooden Legacy as an opportunity to play and beat some high-quality opponents and emerge from November as a potential NCAA Tournament team.
Those plans crumbled late Thursday night in a 90-79 loss to Hawaii at Fullerton, Calif.
The Utes (2-2) will meet Grand Canyon on Friday at 7 p.m. MST; ESPN3 will show the consolation-bracket game from Titan Gym on the Cal State Fullerton campus.
Grand Canyon led Seton Hall in the late stages of an opening-round game before losing 82-75.
Utah faded late in the the first half against Hawaii (4-1) and completely fell apart in the first few minutes of the second half.
After trailing by 23 points in the last nine minutes, the Utes made a comeback but got no closer than eight points in the final minute.
The Utes had beaten Hawaii 80-60 at the Huntsman Center last December, but were overwhelmed this time by the Warriors' outside shooting and had trouble generating much offense of their own until the last seven minutes of the game.
The result was basically a worst-case scenario for Utah’s postseason credentials, as of the opening month of the season. The Utes lost to a team ranked No. 208 by kenpom.com. What’s more, Utah won’t get to play the likes of Seton Hall or Miami as the eight-team tournament continues Friday and Sunday.
The Utes had a similar experience in 2016, as they lost to San Francisco in a first-round game of a tournament in Hawaii, coincidentally. In that case, former Ute forward Kyle Kuzma's ankle injury was cited as a big reason for the defeat, even with guard Sedrick Barefield scoring 35 points. In Thursday's game, with Kuzma watching from a courtside seat as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, Barefield scored only four points on 1-of-8 shooting in 22 minutes.
Sophomore forward Donnie Tillman posted 16 points and nine rebounds for the Utes, who shot 44.8 percent from the field, with the help of a late flurry. Hawaii shot 52.8 percent.
Freshman forward Riley Battin, a Southern California native, also scored 16 points for the Utes and freshman guard Both Gach added 10. Battin played well in a small lineup, after Utah centers Novak Topalovic and Jayce Johnson were ineffective.
Guard Brocke Stepteau led Hawaii with 24 points, including 12 of 13 free throws.
The Utes trailed 39-31 at halftime, struggling at both ends of the court. In multiple ways, Utah failed to take advantage of Hawaii's foul trouble.
Zigmars Raimo, the Warriors' leading scorer through four games, went to the bench with his second foul after playing only three minutes. Yet Hawaii ended up shooting 57.7 percent from the field in the first half (to the Utes' 37.5 percent), while Utah didn't take advantage of its free-throw opportunities. Vante Hendrix made all three of his attempts late in the half; before then, the Utes were only 8 of 16 from the line.
Utah's offense looked much worse after Timmy Allen exited with two fouls of his own, having scored seven points. The Utes made only field goal in the last seven minutes, as Hawaii closed the half with a 20-8 run.
Hawaii opened the second half with a 17-4 burst and later led 64-41 before the Utes made their mild rally.