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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Utah Men’s Basketball Falls to USC on the Road

Deivon Smith scored 19 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out seven assists to lead Utah in all major statistical categories.
University+of+Utah+Men%E2%80%99s+Basketball+guard+Deivon+Smith+%285%29+in+the+game+vs.+the+Colorado+Buffaloes+on+Sunday%2C+Feb.+4%2C+2024+at+the+Jon+M.+Huntsman+Center+in+Salt+Lake+City.+%28Photo+by+Mary+Allen+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29
Mary Allen
University of Utah Men’s Basketball guard Deivon Smith (5) in the game vs. the Colorado Buffaloes on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024 at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. (Photo by Mary Allen | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

The Utah men’s basketball team (15-10, 6-8 Pac-12) headed to Southern California to take on a USC Trojan team that has struggled to collect wins all year. The Utes came into this game looking to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive after two tough home losses last weekend. Playing on the road has been the Achilles’ heel for Utah thus far this season, and that theme continued in this game as well. After a sluggish start and just 29 first-half points, Utah attempted to claw their way back in the second half but would eventually fall short, 68-64.

First Half

Utah played solid defensively throughout the first half but seemed to give up too many uncontested looks late in the shot clock. USC would capitalize on the defensive lapses by Utah, taking a five-point halftime lead.

Utah could not get anything going offensively, putting up just 29 first-half points. The three-point shooting for Utah has been one of their strengths all year, but they were ice cold from distance throughout the entirety of the first half, going 1-12 from beyond the arc.

At the 10:46 mark of the first half, Utah had scored just six points before a Deivon Smith layup broke the scoring drought. The Utes would bounce back well, keeping this game close after what seemed like an eternity without any offensive production. After being down by 13 points, Utah was able to stay competitive, cutting the lead to just five headed into the halftime locker room. If Utah wanted to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive, they would need to play a flawless second half against a USC team that seemed to find their rhythm early in this outing.

Second Half

Utah started the second half much stronger than the first, cutting the USC lead to just three points thanks to a Branden Carlson three at the 15-minute mark. This sparked the Utah offense as they started to go on a bit of a run, taking the lead on a Cole Bajema three-pointer with 13 minutes left to go.

The hot shooting by Utah would not last long, however, as USC stormed back with a 9-0 run of their own to take a seven-point lead just past the midway point of the second half. Free-throw shooting for Utah kept this game close and they continued to stay within striking distance of the Trojans.

With 2:01 left to go, Carlson knocked down a mid-range jumper to cut the lead to just two points for Utah. A couple missed layups and a costly turnover would plague Utah down the stretch, as they could not string together enough buckets to tie this game up late. Despite a valiant comeback effort, Utah would fall short, 68-64.

Stuffing the Stat Sheet

Smith had a bounce-back game after his scoreless outing against Arizona State, scoring 19 points, grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out seven assists to lead Utah in all major statistical categories. Carlson got his offensive game going in the second half, putting up 15 points and grabbing seven hard-fought rebounds. Keba Keita and Gabe Madsen both scored nine points apiece to round out the majority of the Utah scoring.

What’s next for the Utes?

Utah will stay in Southern California as they take on UCLA on Sunday, Feb. 18 at 5:00 p.m. MST. Utah still has a slight chance to make the NCAA tournament as an at-large bid, and a win against a UCLA team that has picked up their play as of late would be a big boost to the resume. Catch all the action this Saturday on Fox Sports 1.

 

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@Kylegarr23

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About the Contributors
Kyle Garrison, Sports Writer
Kyle garrison grew up in Spring Lake, Michigan. He moved to Salt Lake City to pursue a degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism. Kyle plans on pursuing broadcast journalism as a career once graduating from the University of Utah. Kyle started with the Chronicle this fall and has loved every minute of working with the team.
Mary Allen, Design Director
(she/her) Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Mary is thrilled to be here at the University of Utah studying graphic design. She feels very lucky to get to rub shoulders with the talented people that make up the team here at the Chronicle and is learning a lot from them every day. Other than making things look cute, Mary’s passions include music, pickleball, Diet Coke, wildlife protection, and the Boston Red Sox.

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