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Same old story as Ute offense fizzles in another Pac-12 road loss

Oregon State gets ahead early and cruises past Utah basketball team

Oregon State’s Kylor Kelley (24) tries to block a shot by Utah’s Timmy Allen (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Corvallis, Ore., Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020.
AP

CORVALLIS, Oregon — Another road game, another loss for the Utah basketball team, which fell to 0-6 in Pac-12 play and 1-7 overall in road games with a 70-51 defeat to Oregon State Thursday night at Gill Coliseum.

It was the same old story for the Utes, who dropped to 5-7 in Pac-12 play and 14-10 overall, this one never close after the first few minutes of the game, which has been the case for most of the Ute road losses this year. The Utes trailed by 16 at halftime and couldn’t cut the lead in the second half when they trailed by as many as 25 points.

Offense was the big problem again as the Utes shot a dismal 37.3% from the field, were just 50% from the free-throw line, turned the ball over 14 times and finished with their lowest scoring output of the season.

“We played scared offensively,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “We weren’t aggressive, we weren’t getting feet in the paint a lot of times and we didn’t finish strong enough around the rim when we finally did get there. Those are golden opportunities from point-blank range.”

Krystkowiak has talked about different storylines in each of the Ute losses, but this was a familiar one — shooting poorly and getting too far behind early to catch up.

The Utes have now lost Pac-12 road games by margins of 39, 19, 16, 14 and 4, in addition to Thursday’s 19-point whipping.

Krystkowiak was especially disappointed with his team’s performance in the first half when it only scored 19 points and trailed 35-19. Three times the Utes missed the front end of one-and-one free throws.

“We didn’t play hard enough on offense in the first half,” he said. “We got complacent. We did a lot of standing on the perimeter. In the second half we moved, we cut without the ball and played together and defensively we were pretty solid, guarding and doing what we needed to do. But you can’t score 19 points in a half and we were in a little bit of a funk offensively.”

Freshman center Branden Carlson was the Utes’ best player Thursday as he scored a team-high 13 points on 5 of 9 from the field while grabbing eight rebounds. Otherwise the Utes didn’t have any players in double figures and no one but Carlson made more than three field goals.

Both Gach returned after missing four games with a leg injury and though he didn’t start, he played 22 minutes and scored eight points on 3 of 7 shooting.

“Both was fine, he gave us a boost and having some additional depth was nice,” Krystkowiak said.

Utah’s leading scorer, Timmy Allen, who had broken out of shooting slump last week against Cal with 21 points, had his lowest scoring output of the season with just six points on 3 of 8 from the field.

“We’ve got to be tough and stay with it,” he said. “Our shots will fall — we’ve got to keep going. It’s an everyday challenge.”

Rylan Jones and Riley Battin had rough nights as Jones went 1 for 5 from the field and committed five turnovers before fouling out, while Battin was 1 for 8 with just two rebounds.

On the positive side, the Utes won the rebound battle 34-33, thanks to 11 offensive boards as Carlson and Allen led the way with eight rebounds apiece.

The Utes also did a nice defensive job on OSU’s leading scorer, Tres Tinkle, who only scored 11 points, but center Kylor Kelley finished with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Ethan Thompson had 13 points and 11 assists and Zach Reichle added 10 points.

The Utes will spend a couple of days in Portland practicing before coming back to Eugene to play Oregon, which overcame a nine-point halftime deficit to beat Colorado 68-60 Thursday night.

GAME NOTES: Kerry Rupp, the former Ute assistant and interim coach, is in his sixth year as an assistant under Wayne Tinkle. ... Payton Dastrup, a 6-10 junior forward, started his career at BYU. This year, he’s averaging 2.1 points in 16 games. ... Utah leads the all-time series 19-14 after the loss. In Corvallis, Utah is now 3-12. ... Utah beat Oregon State 81-69 in the opening game of Pac-12 play in early January.