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February 22, 2013

Utes come up short

Utah traveled to Boulder to complete its season series with Colorado Thursday night, and fell 60-50 after cutting the Colorado lead to just five points with 2:29 remaining.

Utah dictated tempo through most of the first half with an emphasis on stopping the Colorado tendency to run and score easy buckets in transition. Forcing the Buffs to play a slow, half-court game, Utah was able to hang around with good shooting and good ball management - for the most part

Utah finished the half shooting 10-20 (50%) from the field, 4-9 (44.4%) from long range and 4-4 from the free throw line. Coming back from a four point deficit, Utah re-took the lead at the 8:27 mark Utah went up by as many as four points at 3:11.

To that point, Utah had committed just five turnovers, but proceeded to turn the ball over four times in the last three minutes, while going scoreless for the remainder of the half. Colorado re-gained the lead after a 9-2 run to close the half which found Colorado leading 30-28.

Freshman point guard Brandon Taylor had the hot hand for the Utes early with 10 points in the first half to go along with Jason Washburn's eight point effort and Jordan Loveridge's five points.

While Colorado didn't come out scorching hot to start the half, they pulled away from the Utes, who had no answer for the Colorado trap from the get-go. On a few possessions, the Utes fought their way out of the well-schemed traps, but by and large, they did in the Utah offense.

Forcing 15 turnovers, 12 of which came from the Ute backcourt, Colorado scored 21 points off Utah handouts. As Utah fell apart offensively, it also deviated away from its defensive game plan, allowing the Buffaloes to run, which is a large part of their offensive identity. Jumping into a little-wanted track meet with Colorado, Utah was bound to fail, and fail it did.

Colorado increased its lead to as much as 11 points at 12:22, and Utah began its all-too-familiar climb back into the game, but ultimately failed to close the gap for good, never getting closer than five points with under three minutes to play.

Utah scored just 22 points in the second half, and Loveridge's seven points in the second half led the Utes, while Washburn would go on to score just two points in the half. Loveridge's 12 points and eight rebounds each represented team-highs for the Utes on the night.

Taylor, who suffered with a minor ankle aggravation earlier in the week appeared to have exasperated it early in the game, appeared to battle it as the game wore on. Ultimately, he sat out for a stretch in the second half, and would not score more than the 10 points he put up in the first half.

The lone offensive bright spot for Utah in the second half was freshman Dakari Tucker, who once again added eight points for a consecutive game, on 2-3 shooting from beyond the arc and 3-5 on the night.

With the loss, Utah sits at 11-15, 3-11, eluding that magical 12th win, which would double the Utes' 2011-2012 season win total.

Utah next travels to the Bay Area to meet the streaking Cal Bears on February 28, followed by a meeting with Stanford on March 3.


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