Turnovers continue to plague the University of Utah men’s basketball team. On the road in Corvallis, the Utes had a 13 point lead in the second half, but they turned the ball over twice in the final 30 seconds of the game, and as a result Oregon State earned its first win in Pac-12 play this year, 68-67.
A clutch three-pointer from Kyle Kuzma in the final minute of the game wasn’t enough to distance the Utes from the Beavers. Immediately after that three, OSU hit a layup to make it a one point game. Utah was inbounding the ball, and it tried to execute a trick play, but it backfired as the Utes were called for a five second violation with 27 seconds left.
Oregon State hit another layup with 10.3 seconds left, and with Utah rushing up the floor to get off a shot, Lorenzo Bonam was whistled for a travel. OSU missed both free throws after a Utah foul, but a last second heave from Kuzma fell short as the entire Ute squad fell one point shy of OSU’s final point tally.
Kuzma, who did not play in Thursday night’s loss to Oregon, finished with 19 points and nine rebounds, and David Collette, who fouled out with just over two minutes left, was the only other Ute to finish scoring in double digits with 13 points. Overall, Utah turned the ball over 17 times, and Kuzma and Collette accounted for 11 of those.
Although assistant coach Tommy Connor cannot pinpoint what exactly went wrong for Utah to lose a double digit lead, he was disappointed that the Utes lost track OSU’s Stephen Thompson Jr., because the team knew he had the ability to knock down clutch three-pointers. Thompson Jr. went 5-of-9 from three-point range.
“Not sure why, but we lose their best shooter, and it’s killer,” Connor said on ESPN 700. “That’s inexcusable for us to lose the guy who’s going to beat us from three, and that’s disappointing.”
Both squads were competitive early on, but OSU started to hit its shots, and it took an early 13-6. That lead grew to 10 points after another three-pointer gave the home team a 16-6 advantage. Utah ended the Beavers’ 10-0 run, and it started to work its way back into the game. The Utes rattled off six straight points to close the gap to four points.
Utah eventually tied the game at 18, and a floater from Devon Daniels gave the Utes their first lead of the night, 20-18. OSU tied it up at 20 again, but Utah gave itself a four point cushion, and that cushion went into the second half as the Utes had 28-24 lead at halftime.
Utah scored a quick couple of baskets to take an eight point lead at the beginning of the second half, and soon enough the Utes found themselves up 10 points, 36-26.
The Beavers hit a three-pointer to make it a single digit game again, and while Kuzma hit a bucket for Utah, OSU was making gains on the other end of the court, and the Beavers made it a 40-36 game. Utah started to hit its shots, and thanks to back-to-back three-pointers from Gabe Bealer, Utah was in control with a 13 point lead, 51-38.
OSU kept fighting, and it made it an eight point game, but several misfires from three-point range led to an open layup for Collette. The Beavers wouldn’t go away, and Utah held on to a 56-50 lead. While a couple of Ute baskets made gave Utah another double digit lead, OSU hit a three-pointer to make the score 60-53.
As the game winded down, Oregon State continued to chip away at the lead, and with 2:18 left in the Collette fouled out. Oregon State hit a pair of free throws, and the score was 63-60. After that, Jayce Johnson could only go 1-for-2 from the line, and an OSU three made it a one point game, 64-63.
The Beavers eventually tied the game at 64, and although Utah took a three point lead, it was brief as Oregon State came out on top by one point.
“It’s a tough one to swallow,” Connor said on ESPN 700.
Next up Utah will face Colorado on the road this Thursday at 9 p.m.