One and done for the runnin’ Utes

Playing the role of the Mountain West Conference’s final hope, the U basketball team failed to advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament losing 58-51 to a Boston College team that took advantage of the Utes’ deficiencies.

Lack of a dominant presence inside, along with a stagnant offense, were problems that the Eagles exploited, but Utah kept the game close until the bitter end.

It seemed that the Utes would fall apart after a first half that featured an 0-for-10 shooting effort from senior Nick Jacobson.

“I think I got pretty good looks, but it’s tough when you just miss shots over and over,” Jacobson said. “They played me like most teams played me, but when the shots aren’t falling, it looks like pretty good defense. It just comes down to me missing shots.”

The horrible shooting in the first half allowed the Eagles to set the tone and take a nine-point lead into the halftime break.

The Utes came back in the second half, as they have done all season long after slow starts.

Ute point guard Tim Drisdom led a charge that tied the score late in the game.

But the Utes went back to their old ways in the closing minutes of the game and became completely stagnant.

The Eagles pressured the Utes on the outside, like teams have done in the past, and Utah did not have an answer.

With one last chance in the game, the pressure defense befuddled the Utes and the entire team stood around and watched the shot clock wind down.

Center Andrew Bogut threw a pass to Richard Chaney, but he could not get the ball off in time, and the Utes’ season was over.

“We were trying to run our offense and get Nick the ball, but we screwed up the play and guys were standing around,” Ute center Tim Frost said. “The shot clock ran down and we were forced to take bad shots.”

If only the Utes had got off a shot on the most critical possession of the game, they might have had a chance.

But the B.C. pressure took advantage of the Utes’ inability to break down a defense.

“We have had problems all year when people pressure us,” acting head coach Kerry Rupp said. “We needed to break that down, but when we tried, our timing was off.”

The horrible offensive effort by the Utes, according to Rupp, was also due to the inexperience of the team.

“We only had two seniors, and it takes five guys committed to make that possession work,” Rupp said. “Younger guys start to stand around when we need to stay spaced and execute our offense.”

The two seniors, Frost and Jacobson, did not finish their careers on a high note. Jacobson finished the game shooting 3-for 17, while Frost finished shooting 2 for-7.

“These two seniors were incredible through the whole season and I am very proud of them,” Rupp said. “They left the footprints for our younger guys.”

Along with the stiff defense, Boston College used its size inside to physically dominate the Utes.

Eagle forward Craig Smith scored a game-high 19 points. He also grabbed eight boards and provided the inside presence that gave Boston College easier shots.

The Eagles ended up shooting 53 percent from the field, while the Utes shot a dismal 38 percent-not a surprise, considering the types of shots both teams were taking.

Utah relied on jump shots, while the Eagles went for the high percentage shots in the paint.

Fighting back from so many problems in the game was what Rupp was proud about.

“I’m very proud of our team and what they have gone through, and most proud of the way they fought themselves back in the game,” Rupp said. “The execution wasn’t great down the stretch, but our team was resurgent and we fought back.”

So many questions remain for the Utes to answer during the offseason. The question of whether or not Rupp will be hired as the permanent head coach is the main issue, but the performance of the team in the NCAAs will not help.

But Frost believed that the offensive issues were not the fault of the coaches.

“Our offensive issues were not the coaches’ fault,” Frost said. “We screwed up on the floor and coaches can’t help you when you are playing.”

The other question that remains is: What will Bogut do now that Majerus is gone? He has a contract waiting for him in Europe, or he could make an ill-advised early jump to the NBA.

The Mountain West Conference as a whole had its reputation tarnished a little more, after all three teams in the tourney lost in the first round.

Since its inception, the conference is now 3-11 in the NCAA tournament.

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