Utah Basketball Has Early Decisions To Make After Loss To BYU

Nov 27, 2021, 10:46 PM
Craig Smith - Utah Utes vs. BYU...
Utah Utes head coach Craig Smith shouts in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)
(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – After suffering their first loss in the Craig Smith era, Utah basketball has some decisions to make early in the season.

Coming into the season, Utah was setup very well with depth across all positions. Now, Craig Smith and the Runnin’ Utes are facing injuries just six games into the season.

In the early minutes in their 75-64 loss to rival BYU on Saturday night, Utah big man Dusan Mahorcic left the game with a leg injury. He did not return and watched the rest of the game with crutches by his side and his leg elevated.

Mahorcic was going to be playing alongside Branden Carlson against BYU in order for Utah to win the rebounding battle.

How Utah Moves Forward Without Potentially Having Mahorcic

After talking to Craig Smith after the game, he wasn’t certain how long Mahorcic would be out. If Utah has to begin Pac-12 play without the Illinois State transfer, the Utes are very thin with bigs. The only big men left are Branden Carlson and Lahat Thioune.

Utah might have to go to small ball by using Riley Battin more. They could potentially use Lazar Stefanovic at the four as well. If Marco Anthony can get healthy fairly quickly, he is a player that can play four positions on the floor.

Rebounding will be a bigger point of emphasis as BYU pulled down 45 rebounds, compared to Utah’s 28 boards. The Cougars had 18 offensive rebounds and scored 17 second chance points.

It’s Time For Lahat Thioune To Step Up

Mahorcic went down just 17 seconds into his time on the floor. Craig Smith put in Branden Carlson after he was helped off the floor and into the locker room. Eventually, Carlson needed a break and Lahat Thioune had to come in and try to fill the void.

Thioune played seven minutes on Saturday and pulled down three rebounds. If Mahorcic is going to miss some significant time, Thioune will be heavily relied upon to step up and help the Runnin’ Utes on the glass. He will be critical against teams with multiple bigs and will be even more of an important piece if Carlson faces foul trouble.

Utah dropped their record to 5-1 on the season. They will jump into Pac-12 play for two quick games beginning with a road contest against USC. The game will be on Wednesday, December 1 and will tip-off at 9:30 p.m. MT on the Pac-12 Network.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com, Co-Host of Faith, Family and Football podcast with Clark Phillips III and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASports.

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