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March 1, 2013The Utah basketball team got off to a fast start against Cal on Thursday night, but quickly fell apart at the end of the first half en route to a 64-42 loss in Haas Pavilion.
It was a youth movement early on for the Utes, as [db]Jordan Loveridge[/db], [db]Brandon Taylor[/db] and [db]Jeremy Olsen[/db] were the early catalysts for Utah's offense. For much of the half, head coach [db]Larry Krystkowiak[/db] went with a freshman heavy lineup, often with four freshmen on the floor at the same time.
"We've got some young kids that can play a little bit. I think the rotation has expanded a little bit. They've earned the right to play, and we're going to need everyone heading down the stretch so we're trying to find a spark with a few guys trying to give us something that we haven't witnessed this season," Krystkowiak said.
The young lineup worked well for a time, as the Utes took a 22-14 lead with 6:30 left in the first half. However, Cal came storming back, going on a 20-10 run to close out the half while taking a 34-24 lead. Turnovers once again plagued the Utes during Cal's big run, and Utah ended the half with eight, which resulted in 15 points for the Bears.
"We had eight turnovers in the first half and they had 15 points. Doing the math on that one, to be turning the ball over is one thing, but obviously you can't defend those turnovers if they're scoring two points on every one," said Krystkowiak.
"In the second half, we came out and took care of the ball, but we shouldn't have to talk about that at halftime. That ball is a piece of gold and it's really valuable to our success. Some of it's youth, but [those turnovers] really got them going," he continued.
Utah started out cold in the second half, and didn't score for the first six minutes of the half before [db]Dakarai Tucker[/db] got a steal and a layup to end the drought. Utah's lack of offense was the latest in a disturbing trend for a team that has struggled to score throughout much of the season. The Utes shot 29.1% from the field for the game, and only 17.6% from three.
For the game, no Ute players finished the game scoring in double figures. Jordan Loveridge led the Utes in scoring with nine points on 3 of 10 shooting to go along with his 11 rebounds. Jarred DuBois had seven points on 1 of 8 shooting from the field. Jason Washburn had an uncharacteristically tough night on the offensive end of the floor, shooting two for 9, and only scoring four points.
"Execution wise and getting open looks, I'm pretty pleased with that when we're not turning the ball over. We're finding a way to get some decent looks and it wasn't a bad plan, there's just going to be nights. The last thing I want to is call out individuals on our team, but when three of your starters are four for 23 between them and two of the guys in your backcourt are two for 14, and a lot of those shots weren't bad shots. We've got to work on that part of the game," Krystkowiak said.
The Utes won't have long to rebound from this loss, as Utah closes out this road swing against Stanford on Sunday afternoon at 3:00 pm PT.