Utah Men’s Basketball Losing Streak Continues Against Arizona Schools

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Utah Men’s Basketball Losing Streak Continues Against Arizona Schools

University of Utah sophomore forward Riley Battin (21) dribbles around University of Oregon redshirt senior forward Shakur Juiston (10) during an NCAA Basketball game at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

University of Utah sophomore forward Riley Battin (21) dribbles around University of Oregon redshirt senior forward Shakur Juiston (10) during an NCAA Basketball game at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

University of Utah sophomore forward Riley Battin (21) dribbles around University of Oregon redshirt senior forward Shakur Juiston (10) during an NCAA Basketball game at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

University of Utah sophomore forward Riley Battin (21) dribbles around University of Oregon redshirt senior forward Shakur Juiston (10) during an NCAA Basketball game at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Brayden Ramsay, Sports Writer

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The University of Utah Runnin’ Utes (10-5, 1-4 Pac-12) took a trip to the desert to take on the Arizona Wildcats (11-5, 3-2 Pac-12) and the Arizona State Sun Devils (10-7, 2-3 Pac-12) this past week, coming home with two tough losses.

 

Utah vs Arizona

Arizona seemed to be hitting on all cylinders on Thursday night as the Utes took the heartbreaking loss 77-93.

Utah’s shooting wasn’t awful in the first half — in fact, they shot 40% from the field. The Wildcats just happened to shoot a little better, going 8-14 from 3-point land alongside 54% from the field. A frustrating first half found the Utes down 52-28 at the break.

Halftime seemed to energize the Utes, as they cut the lead to 19 after an 8-0 run towards the beginning of the final 20 minutes of play. Arizona would heat up once again from 3-point range, moving the lead to 27 with just over three minutes left in the game. The Utes would hit three 3-pointers in a row to start a scoring charge, eventually outscoring Arizona 17-6 in the final minutes.

“I trust that we got a sense of what a big boy basketball is like and what we need to do and what we need to clean up,” head coach Larry Krystkowiak told Utah Athletics.

“We did not quit in this game,” he said. “We had some guys coming in off the bench that haven’t played much and I thought they contributed.”

Krystkowiak hoped that a series of tough opponents would prepare the Utes for the rest of the season. “I don’t want to discredit anybody that’s coming up, but it certainly isn’t going to be the same category of what we’ve gone through,” he said.

Riley Battin and Timmy Allen would lead the Utes with 16 points, while Rylan Jones would lead the team with five assists. Newcomer Jaxon Brenchley would top the squad with five total rebounds on the night.

 

Utah vs Arizona State

Utah’s struggles continued against Arizona State — the team was down from the beginning in the first half and never recovered. Alfonso Plummer helped the Utes climb back into the game with a 3-pointer to get within three, but Utah’s 29% shooting in the first half wasn’t enough to compete with the Sun Devils.

Utah would get sloppy with the ball in the second half, giving up costly turnovers which resulted in ASU buckets on the other end. Utah would go on an 11-4 run before Arizona State would take off on a shooting streak of their own. The Utes would fall in Tempe 83-64.

Allen’s 18 points led the team alongside his 10 rebounds. This resulted in his fifth double-double on the year.

After the game, Krystkowiak told Utah Athletics, “I was pretty pleased with our defense initially in the game. The offense, it’s just been atrocious. Individual players need to step up and have impact. I think we need to do a better job of sharing the ball.”

“Offensively, I thought the first half was kind of a killer. Then we went into the second half, got down 16 and made some terrific basketball plays. We shared ball, hit a couple open threes, cut a 16-point lead down to eight in less than three minutes, and then kind of got back to that forced offense.”

 

What’s Next for the Utes

Utah will be back home beginning Thursday, Jan. 23 against the Washington Huskies. This game will be played at 6 p.m. After facing the Huskies, the Runnin’ Utes will face the Washington State Cougars on Saturday, Jan. 25. The second game of the week will tip off at 5 p.m.

 

How to Follow Next Week’s Matchups

Both games will be televised on Pac-12 Networks and will be broadcast on radio by Bill Riley and Jimmy Soto on ESPN 700.

 

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@brayden_ramsay