Utah Goes Ice Cold Offensively In Second Half, Fall To USC

Jan 2, 2021, 4:58 PM
Ian Martinez - Utah Utes vs. USC Trojans...
Utah Utes guard Ian Martinez (2) drives to the basket during the college basketball game between the Utah Utes and the USC Trojans on January 2, 2021 at Galen Center in Los Angeles, CA. The game was played without fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah basketball lost their second straight game in Pac-12 play, falling to USC 64-46 on Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles.

Utah lost their 12th straight true road game and their loss to USC was their 12th consecutive conference road game.

Ian Martinez was the only Ute to score in double figures with 10 points. Mikael Jantunen scored 8 points and Alfonso Plummer chipped in 7. Timmy Allen struggled, dropping just 5 points on 2-of-14 shooting from the field.

The Utes scored just 18 points in the second half.

Four USC players reached double figures led by Tahj Eaddy with 18 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Drew Peterson added 13 points and 11 boards. Isaiah White contributed 12 points and 5 boards, while Chevez Goodwin had 11 points.

Head coach Larry Krystkowiak was asked how difficult it was going against a tall and athletic USC team.

“Oh, it’s difficult, you have to have a little bit of a plan,” Krystkowiak said. “This is the tallest team in the country. If somebody has any suggestions for how you simulate some of that, some of the length and the deflections and the block shots and things. You can talk about it a lot, but that’s not us. We’re not close to being the tallest team in the country. So some of it is concepts. I think film is going to help us when we look at missed opportunities. Our guys need to gain some confidence. I told them we’re going to put some time into offense and we better not forget how important defense is but we’ve got to make some strides as we head into conference right now, getting a lot more functional offensively than we have.”

Utah Finishes First Half Strong After Poor Start

The Trojans had a really good start to the game, jumping out to a 22-6 lead from a 20-4 run with under 12 minutes left in the opening half. Utah responded with a couple of runs. The first one was a 17-2 run which brought them within one point, 24-23 with 5:15 remaining in the first half. Later, the Runnin’ Utes went on a 12-2 run and had a 27-26 lead with just under three minutes left.

USC finished the half strong with a 32-28 halftime lead. In the first 20 minutes, USC shot 52 percent from the field (13-25) and 33 percent from downtown (4-12). They turned the ball over 10 times and was just plus-one in the rebound battle. The Utes shot 42 percent from the floor (13-31) and was just 1-for-8 from the three-point line. They had just 6 turnovers but had 7 steals and 13 points off of USC’s turnovers.

Another reason Utah climbed back into the game was their 13 fastbreak points and dropping 22 of their 28 points in the paint. The Runnin’ Utes played nine guys in the first half and seven scored, led by Mikael Jantunen with 8 points.

Utah Goes Ice Cold In Second Half vs. USC

After trailing by just four points at halftime, Utah came out flat in the second half. They started 1-for-10 from the field before Pelle Larsson made a three-pointer to cut USC’s lead to 42-38 with 11:16 remaining. The Runnin’ Utes went 6 minutes without a field goal during that span.

Then Utah went on another drought, not scoring a field goal for 4 minutes and was 1-of-16 from the floor. USC had a 10-point lead at the under 8 media timeout at that point.

Following that drought, the Trojans had an 11-1 run over a span of 4:20. In the final 20 minutes of the game, Utah went just 4-for-30 from the field and 2-of-14 from beyond the arc, while going 8-of-10 from the free throw line.

“Well, that’s 26 (misses) of them I’ve got to explain,” Krystkowiak on the second half struggles. “I can think of a couple layups. It’s a variety of things, let’s not forget, USC is top 10 in the country in defensive field goal percentage from two. So shots aren’t easy to come by. When you get them, you got to make them. Certainly more of them. But we missed two layups and in a one possession game, those make a difference.”

The Utes have lost two straight and are now 4-3 on the season and 1-2 in Pac-12 play. They will return home for four straight games beginning with Oregon State on Wednesday, January 6 at 9 p.m. MST on ESPNU.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.

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Utah Goes Ice Cold Offensively In Second Half, Fall To USC