Utah manhandled in 39-point loss to Colorado

Ryan Kostecka

After such an inspiring effort at home against No. 8 Oregon on Jan. 4, there was reason for optimism when Utah traveled to No. 20 Colorado for a Sunday afternoon game.

That optimism was quickly destroyed as the Utes fell behind 16-2 less than five minutes into the game and never found traction — falling 91-52 in the end.

“We showed up, we just had our teeth punched in,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “It’s a veteran team that’s physical and we got exposed on the level of physicality. Any time you’re minus-20 on the glass, I think that’s a big part of it."

It was the Utes' worst performance of the season and their lowest output scoring since they were held to 57 points during a 76-57 loss to Coastal Carolina on Nov. 21. 

Against Colorado, Utah 19-for-54 (35.2-percent) from the floor and 6-of-19 (31.6-percent) from beyond the arc. 

"They’re a good defensive team, one of the best in the country," Krystkowiak said of Colorado. "They have a lot of facets to make them successful (and) they came out and responded very well."

While a positive could be that 11 different players scored in the game, the negative is that none of them reached double figures. Riley Battin led the way with eight points while Timmy Allen and Both Gach, who combined for 43 points again the Ducks, were held to seven points apiece while combined to shoot 5-for-20 from the field.

"We felt prepared, we knew what we were getting ourselves into,” said Gach. “At the end of the day, they competed harder than us. They wanted it more. We have to be able to throw the first punch when we play teams like that.”

Colorado knew that the Utes would go as long as Allen was the man in charge, so shutting down the Pac-12's leading scorer was a priority.

“Team effort, our coaches the entire week kept saying his name,” said Colorado guard McKinley Wright of Allen. “We took that as an individual challenge and as a collective challenge to shut their water off. We kept hearing his name all week; it was kind of annoying.”

The Buffaloes finished with four players in double figures, led by Evan Battey's 17 points and Wright's 16. The starting five combined to score 61 of the team's 91 points, outscoring the Utes by themselves.

Although it wasn't the best of games by the Utes, it was further proof that in this conference, any team can beat anybody on ay certain day... A point that Krystkowiak is trying to make clear in the minds of his players.

“Michigan State was 5-0 in the Big Ten and got smacked. Life is hard. The Baltimore Ravens were the best team in the NFL and they got it handed to them," Krystkowiak said. “You have to be ready to compete and I think there are some deficiencies in our game right now that we have to clean up. ... The key for us is we need to stay together. Our group needs to stay together and keep growing."

Utah will look to put this game behind when it travels to the desert to face Arizona on Thursday. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. MST and will be broadcasted on the Pac-12 Network.