Bleeding Red: Ducks continue to fluster Runnin’ Utes

Just like Seinfeld who hates the Drake
Refs won’t give the Utes a fair shake
Five against five is hard enough
But five on eight is really tough

COMMENTARY – This past week, Utah faced off against Oregon and Oregon State at the Huntsman Center and split the games 1-1 with a win against the Beavers and a disappointing loss to the Ducks.

“We just needed to make a couple more plays,” explained Larry Krystowiak after the Oregon game. “We shot ourselves in the foot in a number of different ways … Turnovers, defense, giving up some dunks, blowing pick and roll coverage, missed layups … I don’t think it needs a broad brush, it’s just you’ve got to rise to the occasion if you’re playing the No. 10 team in the nation.”

utesThe last couple of seasons, Oregon has been a real thorn in the Runnin’ Utes side. They seem to always be in the right position to knock Utah down and prevent them from doing something great, such as winning the Pac-12 conference regular season title, the Pac-12 Tournament, or climbing higher in the national rankings. The Ducks have the makings of becoming the Runnin’ Utes biggest rivals in the Pac-12. The only thing preventing that from happening is that the would-be rivalry is completely one-sided.

Since joining the Pac-12 in the 2011-2012 season, Utah has met Oregon 12 times (including postseason meetings) and has only beaten the Ducks once – a 72-62 win in Salt Lake City back in March of 2013. Whether the games are close or blowouts, the Runnin’ Utes have not been able to get over the hump and get more W’s. Not only have they lost nearly every game since joining the Pac-12, in three of the last four Pac-12 Tournaments, Oregon has been the reason that Utah has been knocked out of the tournament. Two of those games were in the semifinal round and the other being in last season’s championship round.

AP Photo

I can’t say how the Ducks and their fans feel about the Runnin’ Utes, but Utah fans are definitely getting heated about Oregon and are ready for the Runnin’ Utes to start dishing out some payback. Right now, this reminds me of the BYU vs. Utah Football Rivalry back in the LaVell Edwards era. Back then, the Cougars probably didn’t think much of the Utes as a rival since they were beating them all the time. Things changed, however, when Utah started winning more often and the rivalry got heated again.

In the same way, the Ducks probably don’t think much of the Runnin’ Utes since they keep beating them and, sadly, make it look easy most of the time. However, if Utah can find a way to get over their mental block against Oregon and start winning some games, I can see this becoming a heated conference rivalry for years to come.

Runnin’ Utes fans are definitely ready for it to happen. During the game, the Utah fans got angrier and more frustrated than I have seen them in a long time. Sure, they were angry at the referees doing a poor job, but it was fueled by the desire for the Runnin’ Utes to beat the Ducks. They were so heated about it, they were still complaining about it during the first half of the Oregon State game two days later.

We will have to wait and see if Utah can dish out some payback when they go on the road to face Oregon again on Feb. 16. If the Runnin’ Utes can find a way to start beating the Ducks more consistently, this could become a very entertaining rivalry for many years. 

Speaking of entertaining things, Oregon’s star forward, Dillon Brooks, executed the most entertaining flop that I have ever seen during the game against Utah. This flop was so amazing that I believe Brooks should be nominated for an Oscar. This spectacular flop gained national attention and was even shown on mainstream news segments that don’t normally talk about sports. The best part for me is that despite the massive flop Brooks was still called for a defensive foul and Runnin’ Utes guard Sedrick Barefield shot free throws. If you haven’t seen it yet check out here and treat yourself. 

In the women’s gymnastics world, the No. 4-ranked Red Rocks are still undefeated as they knocked out No. 19 Washington on the road 197.150-196.300. Utah did great in its first Pac-12 meets of the season, but lost their second gymnast to injury this season. The first one came on Jan. 17 when sophomore Sabrina Schwab (the 2016 Pac-12 Freshman of the year) tore her ACL. The next one happened during pre-meet warm-ups on Saturday, when freshman and two-event starter Kim Tessen tore her Achilles and will also be out for the rest of the season.

Utah gymnastics at the Huntsman Center. | Photo courtesy Utah Athletics

Up to this point in the season, Kim has been dynamite on the bars and vault this season and it was sad to have to replace her. However, freshman Missy Reinstadtler responded well in place of Kim and posted a 9.85 in her first bar routine for the Red Rocks in her career. 

Utah was strong throughout the whole meet and posted a fantastic 49.375 on beam to clinch the win. Freshman MyKayla Skinner continues her dominance this season by winning yet another all-around title with a 39.575 overall. She has yet to be beaten in the all-around this season. Her dazzling performance on Saturday was topped by a 9.925 on both beam and floor. This team is a ton of fun to watch!

This coming week, the Runnin’ Utes go on the road to face Cal on Thursday and Stanford on Saturday, while the undefeated Red Rocks come home to the Huntsman Center to face unbeaten No. 15 Cal on Saturday.

“We are going to have to be ready to go mentally on the prep to go against some of the teams we haven’t played yet and try to finish as strong as we can,” said Krystowiak, looking ahead to this week’s road trip. “Everything is coming to a head. The next thing for us is trying to figure out a game plan for Cal.”

Here’s hoping the Red Rocks stay red hot and the Runnin’ Utes can prove to be road warriors and pick up two much-needed wins in California this week.

Today’s Bleeding Red sports column is guest-written by Josh Vance. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. George News.

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Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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