Corvallis, Ore. • As the University of Utah has failed to win a Pac-12 road game this season, head coach Larry Krystkowiak has said multiple times that each road loss has had its own storyline.
The Utes’ latest road setback, this one at Oregon State on Thursday, had a handful of storylines. Both Gach’s return after four games away with a right knee injury did not make a significant dent. The Utes were run off the 3-point line as the offense was mostly stagnant in the first half. Rylan Jones had a rough night, Timmy Allen, too. Utah shot poorly from the foul line.
In this particular case, Krystkowiak opted to go with the offense as his primary storyline. Regardless, the end result on the road Thursday night was the same as its been all season. Utah, hanging on to flickering postseason hopes, fell to Oregon State, 70-51, in front of a vocal Gill Coliseum crowd of 4,118.
The Utes (14-10, 5-7 Pac-12) are now 0-6 in Pac-12 road games and 4-9 away from the Huntsman Center, where they are 10-1 this season.
“You can’t score 19 points in a half, and we were in a little bit of a funk offensively and as is the case, there is a different storyline every game,” Krystkowiak said. “This one was a little new to us. I thought we played plenty hard on defense, but we forgot to really play with an edge to us on offense.
“We didn’t play hard enough on offense, certainly in the first half. I thought we got complacent. Some multiple defenses, we did a lot of standing, a lot of standing on the perimeter. Second half, I thought we moved, we cut without the ball, played together."
This game was over in the first half when the type of scoring drought that has marred some of these road losses crept up once again.
The first such stretch saw the Utes go 6:07 without a field goal. That ended at the 12:17 mark when Gach made a nice cut to the lane and hit a 10-foot jumper off the glass, his first points since Jan. 25 against Washington State. Utah trailed just 9-7 at that point, but that deficit soon became wider.
Branden Carlson’s dunk with 10:11 before halftime pulled Utah to within six at 17-11. By the time Riley Battin hit one of three free throws at the 7:20 mark, Utah trailed, 23-12.
“We just have to be tough and stay with it, it’s part of basketball,” said Allen, who finished with six points and eight rebounds, but played to a minus-24 in 36 minutes of action. “Defense translates on the road, so that’s what we have to focus on. Our shots will fall. We have to keep growing, it’s an every-day challenge.”
Oregon State’s lead grew to as many as 17. When the first-half dust settled, Utah had shot just 29.6% from the floor and 22.2% from 3-point range. Those numbers included Jones, Gach and Allen shooting a combined 2-for-12 from the floor and 0 for 4 from 3-point range.
Any potential second-half run never materialized after Utah turned the ball over three times on its first four possessions over 1:29.
The second turnover, a bad pass by Jones (three points, 1-for-5 shooting, four assists, five turnovers, fouled out), was stolen by Beavers star Tres Tinkle as the action went the other way. Ethan Thompson eventually swung the ball to Zach Reichle, who knocked down a left-wing triple for Oregon State’s biggest lead of the night to that point, 38-19, just 33 seconds into the second half.
“We played scared offensively,” Krystkowiak said. “We weren’t aggressive, we weren’t getting feet in the paint, there were a lot of times when we didn’t finish strong around the rim when we did get there.”