Utah drops first game of the season to Butler, 68-59

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Utah drops first game of the season to Butler, 68-59

The University of Utah Men's Basketball Runnin' Utes junior Kyle Kuzma (35) drives the ball towards the top of the key in the game vs the Butler Bulldogs at the Huntsman Center on Monday, Nov. 28, 2016

The University of Utah Men's Basketball Runnin' Utes junior Kyle Kuzma (35) drives the ball towards the top of the key in the game vs the Butler Bulldogs at the Huntsman Center on Monday, Nov. 28, 2016

The University of Utah Men's Basketball Runnin' Utes junior Kyle Kuzma (35) drives the ball towards the top of the key in the game vs the Butler Bulldogs at the Huntsman Center on Monday, Nov. 28, 2016

The University of Utah Men's Basketball Runnin' Utes junior Kyle Kuzma (35) drives the ball towards the top of the key in the game vs the Butler Bulldogs at the Huntsman Center on Monday, Nov. 28, 2016

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A late game push wasn’t enough for the Runnin’ Utes as they dropped their first game of the season 68-59 to Butler.

Both teams entered Monday night’s contest with a perfect record — Utah was 4-0 and Butler was 6-0, and Butler was coming off of a 69-65 win against Arizona.

Kyle Kuzma registered a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Lorenzo Bonam added 17 points, though 15 of those points came in the first half.

The Utes finished the night shooting 36.5 percent from the field, and they turned the ball over 17 times which led to 23 Butler points. Head coach Larry Krystkowiak thinks there is a little bit of uncertainty on this Ute squad, and he hopes the players can find their rhythm soon.

“You can’t defend turnovers,” Krystkowiak said. “We were really sloppy, and I give them some credit with some hands on balls, but this was the first test for us really. We didn’t do a great job with the test, but we can’t learn unless we’re put in the position where there’s a little adversity.”

Utah had a sloppy start to the game it turned the ball over three times on its first three possessions. As a result Butler jumped out to a 7-0 lead. Bonam would finally get the Utes on the board when he drained a three pointer.

The University of Utah Men's Basketball Runnin' Utes senior Lorenzo Bonam (15) takes a jump shot vs the Butler Bulldogs at the Huntsman Center on Monday, November 28, 2016

The Runnin’ Utes’ senior Lorenzo Bonam (15) takes a jump shot vs the Butler Bulldogs at the Huntsman Center on Monday, Nov. 28.

Butler maintained a six-point lead for a few minutes as both teams found the bottom of the net for a stretch. Bonam kept the game competitive as he scored the first eight points for Utah, and he brought the Utes within three points.

Big man Jayce Johnson found himself in early foul trouble as he was whistled for his second at the 11:38 mark in the first half.

Devon Daniels brought the Utes within one point when he nailed a jumper with 8:25 left in the first, but Butler’s Nate Fowler quickly put the Bulldogs up by three after getting to the rim. Bonam then drove to the hoop, drew some contact, and he made the basket plus the free throw to tie the game at 19.

Daniels put the Utes on top by one point when he knocked down the front end of a one-and-one, but the Utes were whistled for a lane violation on the second attempt. Gabe Bealer had a sloppy pass that resulted in a fastbreak layup for Kamar Baldwin, giving the Bulldogs the lead at 21-20. Butler would fire off an 11-0 run thanks to a few more Utah turnovers to give itself a 31-20 lead.

By the end of the first half Utah would cut the lead to six points, and it entered the locker room trailing Butler 33-27. At that point only three Utes had scored.

Utah would get more people involved in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to overpower the Bulldogs.

Kuzma would score on Utah’s first possession of the second half, but Butler would maintain its six point lead for those opening minutes. Parker VanDyke got the crowd going a bit when he made a layup, but Tyler Lewis would get JoJo Zamora off the ground with a shot fake to extend Butler’s lead to six again.

Andrew Chrabascz would increase the lead to eight points for the Bulldogs, then Lewis drained a three pointer and a layup to make the score 46-33, forcing Utah to call a timeout.

The University of Utah Men's Basketball Runnin' Utes junior Kyle Kuzma (35) drives the ball down the court in the game vs the Butler Bulldogs at the Huntsman Center on Monday, November 28, 2016

The Runnin’ Utes’ junior Kyle Kuzma (35) drives the ball down the court in the game vs the Butler Bulldogs at the Huntsman Center on Monday, Nov. 28.

Kuzma would end Butler’s 9-0 run when he made a hook shot, but it never fazed Butler as the Bulldogs continued to build their lead to 17 points.

Utah got within 12 points following two free throws from Tyler Rawson and a three point play from Kuzma. Johnson would foul out of the game with 4:11 left to play in the game.

The Utes would climb within 11 points after Daniels got a layup to drop, and following a Rawson three pointer and a pair of free throws from Kuzma it was an eight point game with 1:37 left to play — Butler was leading 65-57. But it was a too late as Utah would eventually lose.

Overall, Kuzma thinks this was a good lesson for the Utes. He respects how Butler was able to burn them because of their turnovers, but he knows the Utes can perform better.

“There’s a lot of lessons learned,” Kuzma said. “We can’t turn the ball over and expect to win, and they scored 23 points off of our turnovers, and that bit us. I don’t think they did a lot honestly. A lot of credit to them, but we had a lot of blatant turnovers that we shouldn’t have had, and that affected a lot of things we did today.

But in the end Krystkowiak thinks his team beat itself.

“I told our team I don’t have any problem with getting beat, that’s not what this is about,” Krystkowiak said. “But I don’t like to be a team that beats itself, and I had that taste in my mouth at the end of the game when we didn’t really give ourselves a fair chance to see what it was.”

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@kbrenneisen