Runnin’ Utes Catch Fire From Three, Finally Break Losing Streak


Jack Gambassi

Utah basketball’s Both Gach (#2) puts an arm over the shoulder of teammate Lazar Stefanovic (#20) in the matchup against the UCLA Bruins at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ethan Pearce, Sports Editor


The losing streak is over. Finally, mercifully, the University of Utah men’s basketball team has won a game. After a winless January and 10-game losing streak, punctuated by a double overtime heartbreaker against Washington, Utah is back in the win column following a dominating victory over Oregon State. It’s their second Pac-12 win of the season, and first overall win since Dec. 21 against Fresno State. Thanks to some hot three-point shooting and great ball control, the Utes managed to grab their first win of the calendar year, which certainly eases some tension in Salt Lake City.

Utah got off to a blistering start from three-point range, shooting 6-11 through eleven minutes of game time to snag a 28-20 lead. The hot shooting continued through the rest of the half; they went to the locker room 9-18. The score was 46-33 at the break — Utah led by as many as 15. This was despite being out-rebounded 20-13 and having eight fouls to Oregon State’s four. 

Lazar Stefanovic led the way at halftime with 12 points on 4-6 from three-point territory. 

Utah played inspired basketball in the first half — this was the most cohesive they’ve looked in a while. The passing was on point with only two turnovers, a big step up from where they had been previously. They finished the game with just five.

“We had five tonight with 21 assists, and that’s the team we need to be,” said Utes head coach Craig Smith.

The second half started a little rockier with Utah undergoing a nearly four-minute dry spell with no field goals made. However, they responded well immediately, with a couple of three-pointers by Riley Battin to push the lead to 18 points — the largest of the night. For the first time in a long time, the Utes had control of a game. 

The remaining ten minutes were basically window dressing. Utah coasted to an easy win, letting their frustrations out on an unsuspecting Beavers team. The final score was 84-59; a 25-point victory to end a month and a half long losing streak. 

“I’m so happy for our guys,” said Smith. “These guys have been through a lot … It’s hard sometimes when you know you’re getting better. You know it, you feel it, you can see it; it’s plain as day. I’m just so happy for the guys because they’ve stayed with it, and they’ve kept fighting and going, and hopefully that can be a sign of what’s to come on the back half.

“We showed that when we do what we’re supposed to do, we’re a really really good team,” Stefanovic said.

Utah showed some serious improvement tonight following the 10-game losing streak. They’re reinvigorated and ready for the final few weeks of the season, where they can potentially put this long stretch behind them. They continue on Saturday at home against the Oregon Ducks at 6:30 p.m. MST.


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