Runnin’ Utes Drop Heartbreaker at Oregon

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University of Utah junior forward Timmy Allen (1) in a NCAA Basketball game vs. the Arizona Wildcats at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Cody | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ethan Pearce, Assistant Sports Editor

 

The University of Utah men’s basketball team dropped a back-and-forth contest on the road against the Oregon Ducks Saturday evening. Both teams fought hard, but ultimately the Ducks came out on top.

Branden Carlson exited on the first play of the game as he fell hard on his hip after a made dunk. So, just fifteen seconds into the night, Utah was seemingly down another rotation player after already missing Mikael Jantunen and Rylan Jones. Fortunately, Carlson was able to return a few minutes later after shaking off the fall and being checked out in the locker room. 

Utah appeared up for a fight, trading buckets with Oregon for the entire first half. Both teams were solid on each end of the floor, and the Utes found themselves with a two-point lead at halftime, 35-33.

The second half was more of the same as the teams battled back-and-forth and the game stayed close. Competing with Oregon on the road is a tough ask, but Utah played up to their competition tonight. The game was tied at 56 with under four minutes to play. 

There was some really high-level shot-making within the last two minutes by both sides. Every time you thought the game was put away, a big three-pointer went down and kept hope alive. 

Ultimately, some ill-timed turnovers down the stretch doomed Utah. Alfonso Plummer lost it out of bounds, followed by a double-dribble called on Timmy Allen. A last-second prayer at the buzzer by Allen rolled off the rim which sealed the deal for the Ducks, 67-64. 

This was a very demoralizing loss for the Utes, on the road against a good team, where four players scored over 13 points and they had a chance to steal this one until the very last moment. It will be interesting to see how this affects them, as Utah is running out of time to get things right going into the Pac-12 Tournament. An NCAA Tournament bid is probably out of the question at this point — barring a miraculous run in Las Vegas next month. 

Coach Larry Krystkowiak had some harsh words about the double-dribble call near the end of the game.

“Wow. All I can say is wow. What the team goes through, and we scrap,” Krystkowiak said. “I think at the end of the day, we let the players determine the game. To make up a call at the end of the game that didn’t even happen, it’s frustrating.”

Still, he was upbeat about the direction of the team, and the effort they put forward tonight.

“I have no problem, I really loved our effort. The focus, the energy that the guys brought… I’m not into moral victories, but for us, it’s about performing,” Krystkowiak said.

Utah will play again on Thursday against UCLA at home after their Monday game against Oregon State was postponed to a later date. This loss drops their record to 9-10, 6-9 in the Pac-12 Conference.

 

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