BYU searching for answers after blowout loss to Utah

BYU searching for answers after blowout loss to Utah

(Matt Gade, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY – “Just like football” was the loudest chant of the night from the Mighty Utah Student Section Saturday night in the Huntsman Center.

And the Utes supporters were right. Just like the football, the Cougars came into the game full of confidence, and just like football, their offense struggled mightily in a 81-64 loss to Utah.

“We never really found ourselves,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said. “Our shooting percentage was so bad, I think that guys tried to take it on themselves to maybe get a little too deep with the ball or get to the rim and score.”

The Cougars were held to under 33 percent field-goal shooting for a second-straight year against the Utes, and if it weren’t for a couple of garbage-time 3-pointers, their 26.3 percent mark from behind the arc could’ve been even worse.

On top of the woeful percentages from the floor, BYU finished shooting a season-worst 54.8 percent from the free-throw line.


We thought that would be something we could penetrate and find open guys, but it seems like we over penetrated a little bit and got to the rim and had a hard time finishing. We got fouled and we got to the free-throw line and had a hard time making free throws and that makes you a little less aggressive.

–Dave Rose


“We thought that would be something we could penetrate and find open guys, but it seems like we over penetrated a little bit and got to the rim and had a hard time finishing,” Rose said. “We got fouled and we got to the free-throw line and had a hard time making free throws and that makes you a little less aggressive.”

The Utes, on the other hand, fed off the energy of their largest crowd of the season to snap a seven-game losing streak against BYU in blowout fashion.

Questions surrounding the sustainability of the Utes’ 8-1 start that has come during a favorable stretch of their schedule, which ranks 324th in the nation in strength, quickly dissipated, while the questions are starting to pile up for BYU.

Rose said in an interview with KSL’s Greg Wrubell last week that it may have been a mistake to use the zone as often as the Cougars did against in their latest loss against UMass.

"We need to be way more active defensively, and we need to match up man-to-man and actually be able to guard without fouling,” Rose noted. “We need to keep ourselves out of foul trouble but still aggressively be able to execute our game.”

Yet, BYU implemented the zone nearly as much as it did a man-to-man defense against Utah. The Utes took advantage by sinking a season-high nine 3-pointers, including six in the first 11-plus minutes.

And once again, the Cougars ran into game-altering foul trouble. Junior Nate Austin picked up his fourth foul just four minutes into the second half, and had to come back onto the floor with 8:28 remaining when freshman Eric Mika was ejected on a questionable flagrant 2 foul call.

“We weren’t in sync and a lot of that had to do with the atmosphere and their athleticism, length and size,” Rose said. “It wasn’t our best game, that’s for sure.”

In fact, it was BYU’s worst defeat of the season.

The Cougars need to find answers fast if they’re going to have any shot at upsetting No. 15 Oregon in Eugene next Saturday.

The Ducks’ 91.4 points per game going into Saturday night were fourth-best in the country. The contest will tipoff at 8:30 p.m. MST and can be seen on the Pac-12 Network. Kyle Spencer is a writer and content manager for ksl.com.

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