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Second Half Slump Too Much to Overcome for Men's Basketball

Jan 2, 2021
Courtesy: USC Athletics

Box Score (PDF)

LOS ANGELES – A tale of two halves on the offensive end for the Utah men's basketball team was too much to overcome Saturday afternoon as the Runnin' Utes fell to USC on the road 64-46 in the Galen Center.
It took the Utes a little longer than they would have liked to get going Saturday afternoon but when they did, it erased a 16-deficit and got within 32-28 of the Trojans heading into the break. Utah was able to convert 10 Trojan turnovers in the opening frame to take a 13-6 edge in points off turnovers as well as a 13-0 advantage in fastbreak points.
USC got off to a hot 9-2 start that forced a Utah timeout just 2:14 into the game. That drought for Utah (4-3, 1-2 Pac-12) continued until it came out of the 11:47 media break down 22-6.
A quick jumper from Mikael Jantunen sparked the Utah offense and started a 9-0 run before it evolved into a 17-2 run that finally forced USC (6-2, 1-1 Pac-12) head coach Andy Enfield to call a timeout at the 7:40 mark after Utah cut the Trojan lead to 24-23.

Out of the timeout, a steal and lay-up from Jones followed by near full-court pass from Alfonso Plummer to Timmy Allen gave Utah the 27-26 lead with 3:16 remaining in the first half before a 6-1 run by the Trojans saw Utah trail 32-28 at the break.

Utah kept it close the first 10-plus minutes of the second fame and was within two possessions out of the 9:22 media break after Jones connected on a pair of free throws. However, that was as close as the Utes would get as their offense went cold, finishing 4-of-30 from the field in the second-half, while USC took advantage to finish out the remainder of the game on an 18-6 run.
Defensively, Utah executed its plan and held the Evan and Isaiah Mobley to just five points between the two. But Utah's inability to find rhythm on offense and knock down shots, including a 3-of-22 effort from deep, was too much for the defense to overcome.
Ian Martinez finished with a team-high 10 points on 3-of-7 shooting, including a 3-of-4 effort from the line. Jantunen added eight points while Plummer was held in check with just seven points on 3-of-11 shooting while being guarded by 6-foot-8 guard Drew Peterson - who is seven inches taller than the senior.
Utah forced an average of 16.8 turnovers heading into Saturday's game and USC finished 15 turnovers … the loss now extends the streak to 12-straight Pac-12 road games without a win for Utah as it returns home for a four-game homestand … despite a 13-6 edge on the offensive glass, Utah trailed the second-chance points category 9-7 against the Trojans – who is the tallest teams in America according to KenPom … after going into the half with a  13-0 edge in fastbreak points, the Utes were held in check and finished with a 13-9 edge … USC's height altered plenty of Utah shots to the tune of a nine blocks to Utah's zero …
Utah returns home for a four-game homestand beginning with Oregon State on Wednesday, Jan. 6, for a late 9 p.m. (MT) tip-off. Roxy Bernstein and Richie Schueler will have the call on the ESPNU broadcast before the Utes welcome in Oregon on Sunday, Jan. 10, for a noon tip-off on Pac-12 Networks.