Los Angeles • Pick something, anything.
Utah’s shooting, specifically from the perimeter, has been poor. The Utes are young and inexperienced, something coach Larry Krystkowiak has not harped on, but has definitely noted in passing over the first 21 games. His team hasn’t been as physical as opponents and has even been outclassed once or twice.
Whatever you want to put the blame on, the simple fact of the matter is, Utah has been bad on the road this season, especially against the Pac-12. The latest evidence came in the form of a lost weekend against the Los Angeles schools.
Utah (12-9, 3-6 Pac-12) is now 1-6 in true road games, the one win coming on opening night at Nevada, and 0-5 on the road vs. the Pac-12. All told, the Utes are 4-8 away from the Huntsman Center. At home, they are 8-1.
“It’s just a different storyline for each game,” Krystkowiak said. “Arizona and Colorado, real physical, elite teams top-20 type teams. Then, we didn’t make enough plays at Arizona State. We didn’t make enough plays at USC, but we’re in those ballgames.”
To further, Krystkowiak’s point, the Pac-12 did Utah no favors by sending a young team on the road in early January to Colorado, Arizona and Arizona State over a six-day stretch.
The trip to Boulder was over before the first media timeout, the Buffaloes flexing their experienced muscles with an early blitz. The Utes had no answer for anything the Wildcats threw at them in a 16-point loss, while an 83-64 defeat at Arizona State belies the fact Utah was within five at the midway point of the second half.
Part of the fascination with this young Utah team is, as Krystkowiak has put it, the ebbs and flows of a season. For example, after getting swept by the Arizona schools, the Utes came home, outlasted Washington, then did a nice job of handling Washington State.
Here we go again. The Utes were swept in Southern California and will come home to host Stanford on Thursday and Cal on Saturday.
The Cardinal are coming off their best win of the season over league-leading Oregon, temporarily quelling the notion that its 16-5 record and NCAA Tournament resume are hollow. At 4-4 in the Pac-12, the Golden Bears have not been the doormat they were painted as earlier in the season.
Utah may be 8-1 at the Huntsman Center, but there don’t appear to be any gimmies to be had this weekend.
“I think this is the grind-it-out part of the season,” sophomore guard Timmy Allen said. “People either give in, or they chest-up and get on to the next possession, the next game.
“We have to decide where we’re at.”