Utes fall 69-64 to No. 4 Oregon

Ryan Kostecka

Utah was right there.

With six minutes left in the game, Both Gach's jumper gave the young Utes a 60-59 lead over No. 4 Oregon and had the Huntsman Center crowd jumping and screaming.

However it would be short-lived, as Utah was outscored 10-4 the rest of the game en route to its 69-64 loss to the Ducks on Saturday.

“There were a lot of positive things our team did,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “Oregon’s always been a positive for us with turnovers, and if you would’ve told me we would’ve turned it over seven times in that game I would have definitely hit the deal button. ... To beat an elite team like that, you’ve got to hit more open shots.”

Thats what it came down to in the end — the Utes' inability to hit open shots. 

For the game, Utah (10-4) went 21-of-59 (35.6-percent) from the field and 9-for-30 (30-percent) from beyond the arc, not to mention a dismal 13-for-20 (65-percent) from the free throw line.

Gach led the team with career-high 24 points while sophomore sensation Timmy Allen finished with a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds — yet they combined to shoot 15-of-38 (39.5-percent) from the field and 4-of-15 (26.7-percent) from three-point territory.

“I really wanted to be aggressive. One of my biggest goals is to not just settle and to try and get to the rim,” Gach said.

“We missed a lot of open shots. We got what we wanted and we just missed them,” Utah freshman guard Rylan Jones added.

Despite its poor shooting, Utah showed a lot of moxie in the second half to overcome a double-digit deficit. 

A three-pointer by Oregon's Will Richardson had the Utes down 56-46 with just over 10 to play, and resulted in a Krystkowiak timeout.

Whatever he said, worked. Utah went on a 12-0 run, started by Gach's three-pointer and punctuated by an Allen bucket, who had six points in the run.

The game went back and forth until the end, when the Utes found themselves trailing 67-64 with 30 seconds left after Jones drew a charge. After a timeout, the Utes ran a play for Allen, who was denied the lane and hoisted up a three-pointer — which missed and ended the comeback.

“They guarded our little action and we just got the ball iso,” said Jones, who finished with six points and four assists, but also four turnovers. “Timmy shot a good shot and when he shot it, I thought he made it. It looked good.”

Krystkowiak also had no problem with the shot selection, trusting his best player to make the right play late in the game.

“We’ve got a handful of specials to try and get a 3-point shot,” Krystkowiak said. “That’s what we were trying to do and Oregon defended it properly. I can’t fault Timmy, it was open. He’s not our top 3-point shooter, but he did make three the other day in a game and I don’t know that we were going to get a better look.”

With the loss, Utah dropped to 1-1 in Pac-12 play, squandering a chance to pick up two  huge wins against the toughest duo in the conference. The Utes will have the week off before returning to action on Sunday when it faces "rival" Colorado, No. 25 in the nation. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. from Colorado and will be aired on ESPNU.