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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Lessons can be learned from tough tourney loss

By Christopher Kamrani, Asst. Sports Editor

Mere seconds after the official tossed the ball between two future NBA big men, Utah’s impressive résumé sank into oblivion.

Utah won the opening tip, but the Arizona Wildcats were in a defensive frenzy from the moment the clock read 19 minutes 59 seconds, and that’s when things got downright atrocious for the Mountain West Conference Champion and No. 5 seed Utes.

They were stifled, bothered and forced out of their element.

Arizona played with a chip on its shoulder and well, Utah fans know the rest of the story.

Unfortunately for the Utes, they never gave the Wildcats a scare, not even a fright.

Arizona didn’t need to worry about a fright8212;the Utes took care of all the deflation themselves.

Twenty turnovers. Carlon Brown coughed up the rock with the Utes down 64-62 with four minutes and 55 seconds left, exterminating any chance of Utah knotting it up or taking the lead.

Arizona ran off eight straight points and that was that.

As bitter as the pill might taste, the Utes’ first time dancing since 2005 was over before it started.

Utah was outplayed, outhustled, outmanned and outhearted by a team that was better prepared and better equipped to win an NCAA Tournament basketball game.

It was like an action-packed, shoot ’em-up film starring Clive Owen, Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp going up against a B-list romantic comedy starring Freddie Prinze Jr. and seeing which would come out of the box office weekend a winner.

There was no contest.

Brown and Luka Drca looked as if they were playing with secured blindfolds, and the Wildcats proved they did all their homework and then some by forcing Luke Nevill into two quick fouls.

Utah never had a shot8212;not with its two best playmakers seemingly MIA for the evening and its 7-foot 2-inch Aussie riding pine next to the likes of Josh Sharp and Chris Hines.

Jordan Hill took the cake of the big man showdown by finishing with 17 points and 13 boards and a few thunderous dunks to boot.

The combo of Chase Budinger and Nic Wise were kryptonite to the Utes’ now 24-10 season.

Budinger showcased his overall game, shaking off defenders and getting to the basket at will. Defenders such as Shaun Green, Drca and Brown were fish in a barrel for the swingman. Budinger finished the game with 20 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steals.

It was Wise who continually proved to be the knife in Utah’s back as he shredded the respectable Utah defense for 29 points, most coming at the rim as he shed Lawrence Borha like a bad habit.

Utah’s inability to do anything with Arizona’s press, coupled with a 2-for-11 start, coupled with Nevill’s foul trouble, coupled with…you get the picture.

“That’s not the team tonight I saw on tape for 10, 12 games, and you’ve got to give them credit for that,” said head coach Jim Boylen.

Arizona never let off the gas pedal for 40 minutes and rode its three stars to victory, but for Utah, an era hit a screeching halt in South Beach.

There will be no more of Borha’s catchy smiles, no more Green from 28 feet out, no more Tyler Kepkay keeping his team above water8212;as he did against Arizona, playing his best game as a Ute when it truly mattered.

Alas, no more Nevill. No more double-doubles, no more sky hooks, no more diluted foul trouble.

Next year will bring a plethora of new faces to the hill and the leadership task will befall unto the shoulders of the talented, athletic and turnover-prone tandem of Drca and Brown.

Utah will have its hands full next season with yet another tough non-conference schedule and Boylen will have the daunting task of breaking in more than a handful of newbies. Although the loss is no doubt a disappointment, it was the play of his seniors that will forever reign supreme to Utah’s second-year coach.

“I’m going to remember the tough days, the days when they didn’t like me very much, and then I’m going to remember the days that we improved, when we grew together and we trusted each other,” Boylen said. “You know, there’s things that cannot be taken away from these guys now. These guys have never won anything in their lives. Lawrence Borha said, “I’ve never won anything in my life.'”

Utah achieved and performed above all expectations, and that’s the end of this year’s song.

“These guys are leaving winners, they’re leaving Utes, and they’ll be Utes forever and they’ll be my guys forever,” Boylen said.

Things get interesting next year. Boylen’s compiling his own Frankenstein8212;with all parts being handpicked by the creator himself.

[email protected]

Chris Kamrani

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