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Utah falls to No. 9 Arizona, missing golden opportunity due to two-point shooting

Feb 17, 2013, 6:17 PM EDT

Kaleb Tarczewski, Jason Washburn, Cedric Martin AP

“You are what your record says you are.” – Bill Parcells

While the words of one of the football’s greatest coaches are true, they can sometimes mask the steps a struggling programs has taken towards at the very least being more competitive. That’s the case with Larry Krystkowiak’s Utah Utes, who lost 68-64 to No. 9 Arizona on Sunday afternoon.

On the season Utah is 11-14 overall and 3-10 in Pac-12 play so the numbers clearly aren’t pretty in that regard. But these Utes are far more competitive in their second season in the Pac-12, with Sunday’s close call being the most recent example of the strides taken.

The statistic in Sunday’s loss that tells the story for Utah: they shot 14-of-37 (37.8%) from inside the three-point arc. And when playing a team the quality of the Wildcats the Utes can ill afford to shoot that poorly if they’re to be successful.

Mark Lyons led the Wildcats with 18 points and Solomon Hill and Brandon Ashley added ten points apiece, but Arizona shot 6-of-22 from beyond the arc with their senior point guard going 1-of-9.

The Wildcats left Salt Lake City with a win, avoiding a road sweep (and a three-game losing streak), due to big plays made down the stretch by their senior leaders and Utah’s poor marksmanship inside of the arc.

Senior Jarred DuBois (16 points) and Jason Washburn (15 points, seven rebounds) led the way offensively for the Utes, who knocked off Arizona State 60-55 on Thursday night. Thanks to these two veterans (DuBois played his first three seasons at Loyola Marymount) and freshman forward Jordan Loveridge (12.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg), Krystkowiak’s Utes have taken steps in the right direction when it comes to competing in the Pac-12.

DuBois and Washburn will be gone at the end of this season but in Loveridge, Utah has a player (who has been one of the league’s best freshmen) they can build around.

There have been some tough nights this season, most recently losses to Stanford (87-55) and Oregon State (82-64) in recent weeks, but the nights on which Utah has looked overwhelmed from a talent standpoint have been infrequent.

“You are what your record says you are.” Slowly but surely Krystkowiak and his program work to make sure their record in future seasons will paint a better picture of Utah basketball.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

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