Utah can't keep up with Arizona's hot shooting night
After a good start to Pac-12 play in the conference opener, it's been a rough go of things for Utah ever since.
Despite 16 points apiece from Timmy Allen and Riley Battin, the Utes (10-6, 1-3 Pac-12) couldn't keep up with Arizona (12-5, 2-2 Pac-12) from behind the arc — suffering their third straight loss when they fell 93-77 on Thursday night.
"We all feel like we've been punched and we realize to be in that category we have to be a lot better," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "We got a sense of what big-boy basketball is like and what we've got to do and what we've got to clean up."
Punched is exactly what happened as the Wildcats knocked down 15 three-pointers on 51.7-percent shooting from beyond the arc — as compared to Utah's 10-for-28 (35.7-percent) showing.
"They were smoking from 3," Krystkowiak said. "Games like that are going to happen. Some of them we played right, but we've got to stay connected."
Rylan Jones added 11 points and five assists, as he and Battin combined to shoot 6-of-15 from three-point territory.
Utah got off to a slow start, finding itself trailing 25-17 just over 10 minutes into the game. But rather than mount a comeback, the deficit swelled following a 23-7 run by the Wildcats. Arizona made five three-pointers during that run.
“Yeah, we got off to a slow start, they are tough for us,” said Battin. “We just didn’t do a good job on defense. We let them get too many easy shots and once you get into a hole like that, it’s hard to get back out, especially at their place.”
Despite trailing 52-28 at the break, the Utes showed a lot of fight and moxie in the second half. An Allen layup halfway through the second half cut the deficit to 17, 67-50, but that was the closest Utah would get until the final buzzer.
Both Gach continued his struggles for the Utes, finishing with two points on 1-of-8 shooting (0-for-4 from deep). When Gach struggles it's very hard for the Utes to overcome as they don't have the depth or star power to challenge in the Pac-12.
“Yeah, I’m not going to get into, you know, some of the stuff that we’re talking about internally,” said Krystkowiak. “Competing, it’s a big thing and it’s hard. This league is hard and there aren’t many secrets, and I think he’s got to stay within what he’s capable of doing and understanding that he needs to do what’s best for our team, as everybody."
Utah returns to action today when it travels to Tempe, Ariz. to face Arizona State — tipoff is set for 7 p.m. MST and will be broadcasted on the Pac-12 Network. The Sun Devils (10-7. 1-3 Pac-12) are coming off a 68-61 loss to No. 20 Colorado on Thursday night.