Utah gave itself little chance to earn a second straight victory Saturday night.

The Runnin’ Utes, instead, were run over nearly from the start in falling to the Colorado Buffaloes 89-65 at CU Events Center in Boulder, Colorado.

That dropped Utah to 1-2 on a three-game road swing.

This one was rarely competitive, six days after the Utes went to Los Angeles and beat a hot UCLA team on a putback with 0.2 seconds remaining.

“First of all, give them a ton of credit. They played great. They were the aggressor,” Utah coach Craig Smith said of Colorado during the ESPN 700 postgame show.

“We didn’t make them feel uncomfortable at all defensively. Felt like they got whatever they wanted.”

Utah scored on its first possession against the Buffaloes — a three-point play from Gabe Madsen — but Colorado went on a 12-0 run over the next four minutes to take control.

From there, it was mostly all Buffaloes, especially in the second half.

Colorado led by as many as 31 points while outscoring Utah 46-31 after halftime.

3 takeaways


Key stretch: After Utah scored three points on its opening possession, Colorado outscored the Utes 12-0 over the next four minutes to take control and led by as many as 31.


Defensive struggles: Colorado shot 54.2%, including 57.1% in the second half in outscoring the Utes 46-31 after halftime. The Buffaloes also made 10 of 21 3-pointers and were 15 of 17 from the free-throw line.


Utah, meanwhile, shot 44.3% for the game (38.7% in the second half) and was 4 of 23 from 3-point range.


Top performers: KJ Simpson led four Colorado players in double-figures with 28 points while shooting 10 of 15 from the floor, while J’Vonne Hadley added 20 points and nine rebounds.


Madsen scored 16 points in the first half and had 18 in all for the Utes, while Deivon Smith added 15 points, six rebounds and five assists.

The Buffaloes were efficient in many different ways against the visiting Utes, shooting 54.2% for the game and 57.1% after halftime.

Colorado made 10 of 21 3-pointers and went 15 of 17 from the free-throw line.

The Buffaloes also had 19 assists on 32 made field goals and turned the ball over just four times.

“We had no answer for them on the defensive end. We have to have a presence on the perimeter,” Smith said. “We gotta be able to guard the ball. I don’t know how many blow-bys there were tonight but there were a lot.”

Utah, meanwhile, shot 44.3% for the game but just 38.7% in the second half.

The Utes were 4 of 23 from 3-point range, including a dismal 1 of 8 after halftime.

Utah eventually shot 13 free throws, making seven, though many of those attempts came late when the game was well in hand.

The net result?

A humbling loss that has Utah, which has fallen into NCAA bubble territory, reeling after losing for the sixth time in eight games and again falling two games under .500 in Pac-12 play.

Madsen tried keeping the Utes (16-11, 7-9 Pac-12) in the game, scoring 16 of his team-high 18 points in the first half while making three 3-pointers. 

That helped Utah cut its deficit to nine, 43-34, at halftime, giving a glimmer of hope that the Utes could rally even closer in the second half.

Utah still had it at a 10-point game with 14:11 remaining when Madsen scored on a layup, his final points of the night, but over the next six minutes, Colorado outscored the Utes 18-4.

Inconsistent long stretches defined the night for Utah, including from its top players.

Fifth-year senior Branden Carlson scored just six points and had six rebounds.

Deivon Smith, who had just two points and three fouls in the first half, ended up having a better second half, finishing with 15 points, six rebounds and five assists.

The Buffaloes (18-9, 9-7 Pac-12), though, rode strong efforts from KJ Simpson and J’Vonne Hadley to the victory.

“What’s disappointing, we have a lot of guys that are a veteran group. And you know, we need more leadership.” — Utah coach Craig Smith

Simpson, who had 25 points when Utah beat Colorado earlier this month in Salt Lake City, was even more impactful in the rematch, scoring 28 points on an efficient 10 of 15 shooting from the floor.

He also made 5 of 8 3-pointers.

Hadley added 20 points, nine rebounds and four assists as Colorado finished with four players in double-figures.

With the loss and Arizona State knocking off No. 21 Washington State on Saturday, the Utes are now all alone at eighth in the Pac-12 standings with two weeks left in the regular season.

It’s a perplexing spot to be in for a veteran group that had several strong nonconference wins but also has struggled in league play. Utah is now 1-7 on the road in Pac-12 action.

“What’s disappointing, we have a lot of guys that are a veteran group,” Craig Smith said, “and, you know, we need more leadership.”