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UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas — For the 19th straight time, the Runnin' Utes lost a non-exhibition game played away from the Jon M. Huntsman Center, and begin the 2012-13 season 0-1 on the road after a 62-55 loss to Southern Methodist.
A sloppy first half led to a 10-point deficit for the Utes after a 17-3 Mustang run heading into the break put SMU ahead, 35-25.
Utah came out of the locker room and played great defense, allowing Southern Methodist to shoot just 24 percent in the second half. The Utes had a hard time capitalizing on offense, but did manage to come within one point of the Mustangs, 39-38, midway through the second half.
"I thought we were pretty good defensively (in the second half) and we put forth a really nice effort," said Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak. "We switched to zone and that seemed to give them trouble because there were possessions where they stood around."
Turnovers and free throws ended up being the difference makers, however, as Utah gave the ball away 17 times and got to the free-throw line on just three occasions, hitting 2-of-3 — all three attempts coming in the final two minutes of the game, when it was all but out of reach.
On the other hand, Southern Methodist got to the line 21 times, converting 18 of them.
"You can’t defend against turnovers, and I think we are still in a rush offensively," Krystkowiak said. "We have to be tougher, physically and mentally. I don’t think our bigs were very disciplined or poised tonight. They tried to finesse it on trips, and that cost us."
All five of SMU's starters were worthy of mention, led by Jalen Jones. The 6-foot-6 guard finished with 20 points and 16 rebounds in the Mustang win. Fellow sophomore guard Ryan Manuel scored 14, while junior forward Shawn Williams had 10.
Cannen Cunningham, a sophomore center, tallied eight points, eight boards, four blocks and four steals in an impressive performance. Junior guard Nick Russell added four points and eight assists for the Mustangs, who improved to 7-1 under hall of fame head coach Larry Brown's first season with the program.
Jarred DuBois had a solid outing for the Utes, leading the second-half surge, despite coming up short in the end. The senior guard scored 25 points in all, with four assists as well.
"I tried to not rush my shot and just step in to my attempts," DuBois said. "I know my teammates won’t back down when we are behind, so I have to be a better leader and try to hold things together."
True freshman Jordan Loveridge had his second career double-double, finishing with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Utah's other two leading scorers on the season, Dallin Bachynski and Glen Dean, struggled from the field. They combined to post just six points on 2-of-12 shooting.
Junior guard Aaron Dotson, a transfer from LSU, finally saw his first action as a Ute after suffering a stress fracture in his foot during fall training camp. Dotson's return wasn't exactly the one he would have hoped for, however, as he went scoreless with four turnovers in seven minutes of play.
The Utes fall to 4-2 on the season with one more match-up to go in their Texas road trip. They will face Texas State on Friday at 6 p.m. MST. That game will be broadcast on the radio at 700 AM.
"We’re getting things figured out and we know it’s a learning process," Krystkowiak said.
"We really showed a lot of fight getting within one in the second half after being down double figures," DuBois said. "We have to just do a better job of controlling tempo. We all need to look in the mirror and see what we can adjust before we go out there on Friday."
Tyson Maddy has covered the University of Utah football and men's basketball teams as a contributing writer for KSL.com sports since 2011.