Runnin’ Utes getting back to basics

Even though the U basketball team lost its third conference game of the season and is now two games behind the Air Force Falcons, it still has a great chance to get a share of the regular-season conference title-just as long as Utah doesn’t repeat the mistakes that it made against Wyoming.

Even with a two-game lead in the conference, Air Force now has to face the toughest road trip in the conference, as it has to play Utah Saturday and BYU Monday.

“I think we have a great chance to make up some ground because of the tough games they have coming up,” sophomore guard Richard Chaney said.

The Falcons are coming off a nonconference loss against Texas Pan American and will have to play in the Huntsman Center, where the Utes are undefeated this season.

“It’s obviously much easier to play at home, especially the way we have played here this season,” Chaney said.

However, the mistakes the Utes made against Wyoming were unacceptable, both on offense and defense. Nick Jacobson’s 3-for-17 shooting night epitomized the Utes’ offense because the team kept taking ill informed outside shots.

“We rushed a lot of shots and weren’t patient,” Chaney said. “We should have been getting the ball down to our bigs, who were doing really well.”

Center Tim Frost and forward Andrew Bogut had 19 and 14 points, respectively, yet their dominance in the middle was undercut by the Utes’ lack of patience. Numerous shot attempts went up before the shot clock hit 15, and according to Chaney, there were reasons for the poor clock management and rushed shooting.

“We came off a night where we shot the ball really well and so we were looking for the outside shot. We saw Wyoming hitting threes and we started to force it,” Chaney said.

Along with the issues of getting the ball down to the post, the Cowboys had eight more offensive rebounds than Utah and also had half as many turnovers as the Utes.

“We just need to hustle more for loose balls, and it hurt us last night when we gave up all those offensive rebounds,” Chaney said.

Not only that, but for Chaney, one of the offensive rebounds in particular was a key point in the game for Wyoming.

“I don’t exactly remember the play, but they got a big offensive rebound and scored and it just killed our momentum,” Chaney said.

Defensively, the Utes could not stop the perimeter shooting of the Cowboys early on, and in the second half, Utah extended its defense and gave up too many offensive rebounds.

“They came out firing and hit their shots, and when we concentrated on stopping them, it was too late because they were in the zone,” Chaney said.

The repeated three-pointers kept preventing the Utes from taking the lead. Neither the defense nor the U offense played well in Monday night’s loss, but the Utes cannot get down over losing one conference game, especially with the huge weekend coming up. “We can’t worry about the loss because we have a big game coming up against Air Force and we need to focus on that,” Chaney said.

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