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FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- The game that Utah played against Colorado State Saturday afternoon was a perfect example of how their season has gone. The Utes lost 76-67, but were riddled by injuries that caused their youngsters to get a lot of time. Having so much youth on the court has caused the Runnin' Utes to have a roller coaster season, but the experience should prove valuable for the seasons to come.
Utah needed to win the game to claim the fifth seed in next week's Mountain West conference tournament, but with Colorado State coming out on top the Utes will now take the sixth seed and play UNLV in the first round. Colorado State earned the fifth seed and will play San Diego State while Utah will be stuck playing the Rebels on their home court. This might sound like a bad break, but the Runnin' Utes beat UNLV both times the faced one another this season.
Senior Kim Tillie, who leads the team in rebounds, and Sophomore David Foster, who leads the conference in blocked shots, were both out with ankle injuries which caused the Utah front court to be thinner than normal. Jason Washburn, the red-shirt Freshman center, started in Foster's stead and played well while gaining valuable experience.
Coach Jim Boylen was impressed with his red-shirt Freshman center's game. "Washburn had great poise in the post, he caught the ball deeper. He had 10 points, five rebounds, three steals, one block and only one turnover in 20 minutes, that's a pretty good stat line for a freshman, and he has three years left."
While Washburn was a bright spot for the Utes, there was also plenty to not be so proud about. The Utes missed nine free-throws, including two front-ends of one on one situations. Not having 6'11" Tillie and 7'3" Foster caused the Utes to go small, in doing so they were outscored by the Rams 32-18 in the paint.
"We were small because of injuries but we thought we could guard them small, that was the gameplan," said Boylen after the game.
The Utes fell behind early and never quite get back into the game. After coming out of halftime with a eight point deficit the Utes battled to get withing three points six times, but that was as close as they got.
Luka Drca and Carlon Brown who usually lead the way for the Utes, being upper-classmen, combined for a pitiful five points on Saturday. They each fouled out of the game as well.
In frustration Coach Boylen expressed his need for his upperclassmen to step up, "We gotta get more from Drca and Brown, we're relying a lot on our young guys, we gotta get more from Drca and Brown."
Colorado State was lead by Travis Franklin who lead the Rams with 16 points. Travis Busch and Andy Ogide both scored in double-digits, Busch with 12 and Ogide with 10.
"I was encouraged by our effort tonight. My guys didn't fold, they kept competing and working together. We were shorthanded, we knew we wouldn't have Foster, so we game-planned for that. We prepped to guard Ogide and I thought we did a heck of a job with that. He got 10 points but had to really work for it," said Boylen.
Utah will have a shot to play UNLV for the third time this season in their first round match-up with the Rebels next Thursday night. The last time Utah played UNLV at the Thomas and Mack Center was Jan. 16 where the Runnin' Utes stole the game with a 73-69 win.
"We'll be ready to play, we don't have any fear in that building," said Boylen concerning next week's game.
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) -- Travis Franklin scored 16 points and Colorado State ended a five-game losing streak with a 76-67 victory over Utah on Saturday.
Travis Busch added 12 points, and Andy Ogide and Greg Smith had 10 each for Colorado State (16-14, 7-9 Mountain West).
The Rams, who clinched the No. 5 seed in the Mountain West tournament, swept the regular-season series from the Utes for the first time since 2005-06.
Marshall Henderson led Utah (14-16, 7-9) with 18 points. Jay Watkins added 15 points and Chris Hines 12 for the Utes, losers of two straight. Utah will be the No. 6 seed in the conference tournament.
Jason Washburn, who finished with 10 points, had a layup and free throw and Utah had the lead down to 35-33 early in the second half. It was 41-38 before Franklin's baseline drive made it a 47-38 game for Colorado State, but the Utes fought back to 55-52 on Hines' two-hand set shot 3-pointer with 8:40 remaining.
It was still 67-63 after Luka Drca scored for the Utes, but they missed three consecutive 3-pointers and Colorado State got a basket from Smith and three free throws from Ogide to make it 72-63 with 1:28 left.
Colorado State took a 35-27 lead into the break after leading by as much as 20-10. The Utes stayed close and Washburn hit a soft hook shot to get them within 29-24 with 2:06 left, but seldom-used Mike Annese had a 3-pointer and two free throws the rest of the way as the half as the Rams got the lead back to eight.
Utah hurt itself, making only 9-of-23 shots and turning the ball over nine times in the half.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)