Utes fall 79-75 in OT thriller vs. Colorado

S-Moops-cropped Colby Patterson
Junior guard Delon Wright jumps for the basket against UCLA at the last home game at the Huntsman Center. Photo by Chris Ayers.

Junior guard Delon Wright jumps for the basket against UCLA at
the last home game at the Huntsman Center. Photo by Chris Ayers.

Utah’s Saturday afternoon game was full of storylines.

Freshman Ahmad Fields had a breakout game, sophomore Brandon Taylor woke up from a shooting slumber and junior Delon Wright further showcased he is one of the conference’s best. In the end, though, the story of Saturday’s game against Colorado had an ending that Utah is all too familiar with, losing the game 79-75 in overtime and remaining winless on the road.

Colorado’s Xavier Talton opened the overtime session with a three to put the Buffaloes up for good, as Colorado used their size and strength to physically best the Utes. With the loss, Utah drops to 14-7 on the year and 3-6 in the conference. Wright and Taylor led the Utes with 17 points apiece.

“I thought we got pounded on the glass,” Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak said on the ESPN 700 Postgame Show. “Eighteen rebound differential, and we have to focus on that. Every time we missed they got every loose ball.”

Colorado out rebounded Utah 42-24 and used those extra possessions to seal the win.

“I have to consider getting a bigger lineup on the court,” Krystkowiak said. “Maybe it’s time for Jordan [Loveridge] to play the three and get a couple bigger guys out there.”

The Utes started off cold from the field and the Buffaloes jumped up 26-19 in the first half. Utah would come back behind Wright’s superb defensive instincts. Spurred by Wright’s quick hands on defense, the Utes were able to get out in transition and go on a 14-0 run, taking a 33-26 lead.

“He’s got the [Kevin Garnett] knack to get his hands on a lot of loose balls,” Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak said.

During the run, the transition game of Fields was on full display as he showcased his athleticism in the open floor for fast break lay-ups. Fields added a much needed spark off the bench, scoring 7 of his 9 points in the first half as Utah went into halftime with a 37-31 lead.

Utah came out of the locker room with the same tenacity it ended the first half with, as they continued to make life difficult for the Buffaloes on the offensive side. Taylor’s lay-up at 16:52 remaining extended its lead to 47-35.

Missing top scorer Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado relied on a balanced attack to fight its way back into the game, led by Josh Scott’s 20 points. Askia Booker put in 18 and Talton finished with 14 for the Buffaloes, who improved to 16-6 and 5-4 in Pac-12 play.

“We definitely knew they were going to come back,” Fields said on the ESPN 700 postgame show. “They played hard and started hitting shots.”

After Talton tied it up at 49, the teams fought down the stretch with Colorado eventually taking a three point lead in the closing moments. But Utah wasn’t done yet.

After being knocked to the floor, Taylor got up and received a pass at the top of the key. Taylor rose up and banged home a triple to tie the game at 65 apiece with six seconds remaining, eventually sending the game into the extra session.

With the game being as close as it was, the intensity of both teams was high. Fields and Colorado’s Xavier Johnson got tangled up during the second half and it appeared that Johnson landed an elbow to the back of Field’s head. A foul was called and after a review no flagrant was given. Krystkowiak disagreed.

“I’m trying to figure out what an elbow is,” he said. “It’s probably best that I shut up right now before I get myself in trouble, but it’s got to be better.”

The Utes return home this week to take on Washington on Feb. 6 and Washington State on Feb. 8.

r.miller@chronicle.utah.edu