Runnin’ Utes came up just short of their second big win tis week

In a game that was full of ups and downs the Runnin’ Utes came up just short of pulling off their second big win of the week, falling 78-73 in overtime to a strong Oklahoma team.

Carlon Brown’s acrobatic reverse layup with six seconds left tied the score to force overtime, and the Utes went into the extra period with plenty of momentum. However, the Utes let a four point lead slip away and the Sooners left Salt Lake City with a hard-fought victory and improved to 7-3 on the season.

The loss was an emotional letdown after the Utes (5-5) entered the game on a high after beating up on a talented Michigan team earlier in the week.

“It’s a disappointing loss,” Utah head coach Jim Boylen said. “We guarded good enough to win; my team battled.”

The Utes had battled back twice in the game to get to overtime, and Boylen said that his team’s effort battling back was one of the many positives that he saw in the game.

“We had two tough starts to the halves, but we battled. I like my team and my athletes,” Boylen said.

The Sooners jumped out to an early eight-point lead within the first four minutes of the game, but the Utes steadily battled back and eventually took control of the 1st half and went into halftime up six at 42-36. However, the 2nd half started just like the 1st and the Sooners, powered by their star guard Willie Warren, quickly erased their deficit and had built up seven-point lead by the 10-minute mark. Despite starting slowly, Warren led all scorers when all was said and done, finishing the game with 27 points.

As time winded down the Utes missed several opportunities to cut the Sooner lead with poor free-throw shooting, part of an overal rough half shooting the ball. The Utes were 0-10 from three-point range in the 2nd half, and shot less than 50 percent from the free-throw during their comeback. With just over two minutes remaining in regulation the Utes trailed by five points, but managed to fight back to tie the score with Brown’s impressive layup.

In overtime the Utes jumped out to an early lead thanks to four consecutive points by Jay Watkins, but then went completely cold. After Warren hit a devastating long range three-pointer with just under two-minutes remaining Luka Drca had a wide open chance to answer from long distance, but his shot came up short. Those missed shots and missed free throws, Boylen said, were the difference in the game

“We have to make our free throws in the big games and we have to make our shots,” Boylen said. “They made a guarded three at the end, and we missed two wide open threes.”

The Utes still had a chance to tie the game in the final minute, but Sooner guard Tommy Mason-Griffin stripped Carlon Brown as he drove to basket, and Oklahoma iced the game with several more free throws, to finish with the 78-73 win.

Despite the loss, Boylen said that he is proud of the way his team is developing and battling.

“I see lots of positives, but with the loss it’s hard,” Boylen said.

The Utes will have a week to regroup until they face Illinois State next Saturday at 4p.m. at the Huntsman Center.