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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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No. 11 Runnin’ Utes fall 69-59 in battle with the Bruins


The last few games, two things that Utah has hung its hat on is not committing turnovers and playing solid defense. At UCLA on Thursday night, however, both of those things failed the Utes as they gave up the ball 14 times and surrendered 69 points, tied for the most they’ve given up in Pac-12 play, as they lost to the Bruins 69-59.


“You gotta play well if you’re going to win in an environment like this,” said Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak in an interview with the ESPN700 postgame show. “There’s gotta be a sense of urgency with what we do — we’ve gotta play harder, we’ve gotta execute better. You can’t make the little, tiny mistakes when you’re in a road environment that can get the crowd going.”

Leading the way for Utah was Delon Wright, who after a rough start finished with 15 points and six rebounds, and Brandon Taylor, who registered 14 points and five assists.

But the Ute backcourt could not outduel its counterpart, as UCLA’s Normal Powell finished with 23 points on 9-for-16 shooting and Bryce Alford, who was looking to shoot better after an 0-for-10 performance the last time he faced Utah, recorded 14 points of his own.

“We completely guarded people wrong,” Krystkowiak said on the show. “We were closing out on Norman Powell like he’s Ray Allen.”

Starting the game, things were looking good after a Dallin Bachynski jump shot put the Runnin’ Utes up early 11-6. But UCLA responded with some pressure defense, and with 6:29 remaining in the first frame, a Noah Allen tip-in put the Bruins up 22-20. UCLA would lead the rest of the half.

In that first half, Utah shot 57 percent from the field compared to the 48 percent shot by the Bruins, but it was UCLA who went into the locker rooms with the 33-30 lead. This was largely due to the fact that the Utes couldn’t hold onto the orange, turning the ball over eight times in the first 20 minutes, which led to 10 Bruin points.

“Their energy did affect us a little bit on offense,” Bachynski said on the show. “Their energy made us second-guess our passes a little bit … that’s one of the things we should’ve been a little more ready for.”

Things got even worse for Utah in the second half. Led by Powell, UCLA came out of the gate with a 12-0 run to push its lead to 45-30. It wasn’t until the 12:40 mark that a Brandon Taylor three-point make finally gave the Utes their first points of the second frame.

Just like it was at Arizona, giving up offensive boards continued to be a problem for Utah, and that was obvious in the second half. After a beautiful pass from Taylor to freshman Brekkott Chapman for the emphatic slam, UCLA’s Isaac Hamilton gathered the Bryce Alford miss on the offensive end, took the contact and laid it in to give the Bruins a 53-40 lead with 8:42 remaining.

And Hamilton wasn’t done. After draining the free throw on the end of the and-one layup, the UCLA guard then would make a shot from deep on the Bruins’ next possession.

However, the Utes would not go down quietly. After a Dakarai Tucker deep ball and a couple of buckets from Wright, highlighted by a steal-and-score, Utah had cut the lead to single digits, 58-50, with just 5:13 remaining.

After two Powell free throws made it a 10-point game again, Wright responded by driving to the paint and avoiding the shot blocker to lay it in for the pretty layup. On the next possession, Taylor pulled up from well beyond the three-point line and drained it, bringing the Utes to within seven, 62-55.

However, Utah didn’t have much left in the tank after that as it only made one field goal in the remaining three minutes of the game. With the Bruins draining their free throws down the stretch, the Utes were on their way to just their second conference loss of the season.

The Runnin’ Utes will have to move on quickly from this loss with USC looming on Sunday.

“I know we are going to bounce back from this, we just need to focus up a little better,” Bachynski said.

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