Big trouble

By By Cody Brunner

By Cody Brunner

For the second time in as many years, the U men’s basketball team is on a five-game slide. The Utes (5-11, 0-3 MWC) latest debacle came last night in Fort Collins against Colorado State (12-3, 2-1 MWC), where they were unable to establish a low-post game and fell, 73-57.

Utah big man Luke Nevill was virtually shut down against the Rams’ dynamic 7-foot duo of Stuart Creason and Jason Smith, who held the Aussie to merely 10 points and five rebounds in the contest.

“I don’t even know what to say any more,” U coach Giacoletti said. “We saw a lot of the same problems we’ve been seeing the whole year. It’s just a lack of effort and each player needs to take it upon themselves.”

Meanwhile, on the other end of the court, the Rams’ front-court tandem dominated the Utes. Smith scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds against his inter-conference nemesis while Creason threw down for nine points and four rebounds.

“Utah is a very good team, but we played unselfishly tonight and that’s what won it for us,” Colorado State coach Dale Layer said.

Utah’s 7-foot-1 Aussie was the primary focus of Layer and the Rams heading into the contest and the attention paid off for the home team in just its third conference game.

“Nevill is a skilled, confident player who continues to improve,” Layer said on Monday. “He’s an NBA prospect and he plays like it every night.”

The Rams controlled the game from the beginning, jumping out to a 10-4 lead early and never allowing the Utes’ inside game to develop, going up 37-27 at half.

With the superior low-post play of Colorado State all but eliminating Nevill from the game, the Utes took to the air. Sharpshooters Johnnie Bryant and Shaun Green combined to shoot 7-of-12 from the three-point line.

Bryant led the Utes with 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting, while Green pitched in 11 points. Freshman Luka Drca also came off the bench with 11 points, but it was not enough for the wounded Utes and they fell for the eleventh time this season.

“We have to find some confidence and determination to finish in those close games,” Giacoletti said. “Right now we don’t have it.”

The Utes’ confidence has been a problem the entire year as they have lost seven games by three points or less.

“We have to work out some problems,” Nevill said. “It gets pretty frustrating because we know how good we could be.”

This Saturday, the Utes travel to Albuquerque in hopes of ironing out the kinks against New Mexico and avoiding the worst losing slide since most of the Utes were in diapers.

“We’ve got a lot of young players on our roster right now,” Giacoletti said. “We’re trying to get better on the run, but it’s not easy in the middle of our conference schedule.”

Lennie Mahler

Shaun Green blocks a shot by TCU opponent Alvardo Parker during the first half of Saturday’s game at the Huntsman Center.