Missed free throws haunt Utes all night

By Chris Kamrani, Asst. Sports Editor

As he sat down in the postgame press room, tired and worn from trying to pull his team back into the game, small forward Carlon Brown was asked the inevitable question after a loss: What was the difference tonight?

He answered with the same response as head coach Jim Boylen, guard Tyler Kepkay and center Luke Nevill.

“I think we lost it on the free-throw line,” Brown said.

After that, Brown rambled off a list of Ute players who had missed free throws on the night. The list was long.

Seven different Utes missed free throws en route to their 72-69 loss to the visiting California Golden Bears. Utah shot 20-for-31 from the charity stripe, an unimpressive 64.5 percent from the line.

After Boylen was asked to make an opening statement regarding the game, the traditional long pause was given, followed by his response: “We missed 11 free throws,” he said. “I thought that was kind of a difference in the game.”

Through Dec. 7, Utah was ranked No. 10 in the nation in terms of free-throw shooting with an average of 77.8 percent. Utah had previously sunk 126-of-162 free throws in its first seven games, an average of 5.1 misses per contest.

On a night when a talented Pac-10 team came marching into the Huntsman Center, missing 11 from the line would prove to be Utah’s ultimate undoing.

“We’re a very good free-throw shooting team,” Boylen said. “(Cal) missed nine, we missed 11. Maybe it’s a wash, I don’t know.”

Boylen hinted at the fact that his aggressive style of basketball commits fouls and receives fouls. Making the ensuing free throws is what counts.

“We have to work so hard to get to the line, when we get there, we gotta make them,” Boylen said.

Nevill was the most consistent of the night, hitting 8-of-10 from the line, while Lawrence Borha, Kim Tillie, Shaun Green, Kepkay and Brown each missed one on the evening. True freshman Jordan Cyphers, who was in on account of Brown and Borha’s foul trouble, went 0-for-4 from the line.

With fewer than 53 ticks left and the Utes trailing by three, Cal swingman Patrick Christopher gave a shove in the back of Brown after Brown blew by him, resulting in an intentional foul call.

Brown missed a golden opportunity for the Utes as he went 1-for-2 on the trip, despite Utah tying it up 40 seconds later.

With the biggest game of the season8212;on the road against No. 5 Oklahoma8212;now two days away, the loss was hard to take, considering Utah’s chances.

“It’s painful to lose a game at the line,” Boylen said. “It’s painful.”

Nevill tweaks hip

Luke Nevill fought long and hard for his 18-point, six-rebound performance.

Maybe a bit too hard.

Nevill cautiously waltzed around after the loss to Cal in what he said was a “tweaked” right hip. Nevill said he doesn’t remember when or how it exactly happened during the game, but he said it was “somewhere in the middle of the second half” and that is progressively began to bother him as the game wore on.

When asked if the hip injury would deter his play at No. 5 Oklahoma this weekend, Nevill said, “We’ll see, I’m not sure right now.”

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Tyler Cobb

Jordan Cyphers, who went 0-for-4 from the free throw line gets an earful from head coach Jim Boylen. Utah shot 20-for-31 from the line against Cal, 13 percent below its season average.