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IT’S CRUNCH OR BE CRUNCHED TIME: UTAH

SHARE IT’S CRUNCH OR BE CRUNCHED TIME: UTAH

Utah coach Rick Majerus probably didn't sleep much, if at all, Thursday night after his team's 71-68 loss to Fresno State. His team may be ranked No. 8 in the nation, but he has plenty of concerns as they head into the stretch run, beginning tonight (7:30 p.m.) at Air Force.

While the Utes are 21-5 overall and 13-3 in the Western Athletic Conference, they haven't been able to hold large second-half leads in their last two road games at Wyoming and Fresno. Majerus was pleased with his squad's defensive play Thursday night, but he had a whole list of complaints about his team's overall performance.Such as:

- Brandon Jessie not playing hard enough in getting just four points and two rebounds.

- Keith Van Horn only getting off eight shots and getting no offensive rebounds, while disappearing at crunch time.

- Andre Miller, despite having an outstanding overall outing, making poor decisions at the end of the game.

- Michael Doleac not playing tough enough in the post, missing consecutive free throws and then making a foolish foul on a Fresno 3-point try.

- Terry Preston taking an ill-advised 3-point shot shortly after coming into the game and giving up consecutive treys to Dominick Young.

- Mark Rydalch continuing to struggle with his outside shooting.

- Ben Caton making five of the team's 17 turnovers.

As Majerus said, "It was everybody."

The trick now for Utah is turning things around against the Falcons tonight and BYU next week prior to the WAC tournament.

At 1-14 in the WAC, the Falcons shouldn't pose much of a problem for the Utes, although Majerus says it "will be no easy task."

Air Force is led by sophomore Jarmica Reese (14.6 ppg) and Reggie Minton Jr., the coach's son.

The Utes know that they can clinch a share of the WAC title with a victory tonight.