What went right
CU got off to a great start, taking leads of 18-12 and 30-22 to quiet the crowd of 12,027 at the Huntsman Center.
What went wrong
A stretch of 11 minutes, 30 seconds in the middle of the game cost CU. The Buffs were outscored 23-2 and they had 10 turnovers during that stretch.
Star of the game
Josh Scott. He had 17 points — 15 in the second half — and seven rebounds to lead CU in both categories.
The Buffs will visit Stanford in Wednesday.
SALT LAKE CITY — — As often as Tad Boyle preaches defense, one would think his team would have it ingrained in their minds.
Entering the final week of the regular season, though, his Colorado Buffaloes haven't figured it out.
For the third time in five games, the Buffs had a miserable second half on defense Saturday in a 75-64 loss to Utah at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.
"We're just not good enough defensively right now," Boyle said. "You look at every league in America ... you look at the top teams in those leagues, they are the best defensive teams. We're not good enough right now."
CU (20-9, 9-7 Pac-12) lost its second straight game, as Utah (19-9, 8-8) made 70.8 percent of its shots in the second half and strengthened its case for an NCAA Tournament bid.
Delon Wright and Jordan Loveridge had 21 points each for the Utes, who improved to 18-2 at home this season. Josh Scott had 17 points and seven rebounds for CU, while Xavier Johnson added 10 points.
On Feb. 13, CU led by four at the half at UCLA, but the Bruins made 62.5 percent of their shots and outscored the Buffs 56-34 after the break. On Feb. 22, CU was outscored 57-36 in the second half at home against Arizona, which made a stunning 84.6 percent of its shots after the break.
Utah found that same formula, turning a tie game at halftime into a relatively easy win.
"Right now, second halves are baffling when it comes to the Buffs," Boyle said. "This is three out of the last (five) games. It happens once, you think, 'OK maybe somebody got hot and it's an aberration.' But it's not an aberration. We have to look at ourselves in the mirror and understand that we're not good enough in the second half defensively."
CU's troubles began late in the first half Saturday.
Dustin Thomas scored CU's first seven points and helped the Buffs to an 18-12 lead after the first nine minutes.
The Buffs got their biggest lead of the game, 30-22, when Jaron Hopkins drained a 3-pointer with 4 minutes, 34 seconds to go in the first half.
Then, the next 11 and a half minutes were a disaster.
Utah outscored the Buffs 23-2 during that stretch, turning an eight-point CU lead into a 13-point Utah advantage. CU went 1-for-11 from the floor and had 10 turnovers during that time.
"We turned the ball over and we didn't get stops," Scott said. "Those two things combined hurt. That's the key to the second half."
CU played the final seven minutes of the first with three starters — Askia Booker, Johnson and Thomas — on the bench with two fouls each, but still went into the break tied at 30.
Utah, however, opened the second half on a 9-0 run, including Wright getting a steal and a layup, while being fouled by Thomas. Wright converted the three-point play.
"They just came out real aggressive (in the second half)," Thomas said. "We didn't come out and match their aggressiveness. If we do that, we'll be all right."
Utah led by as many as 17 points and CU didn't get the deficit below nine points in the last 14 minutes.
Utah wound up shooting 59.6 percent for the game. CU opponents have connected on 78 percent of their second-half shots (39 of 50) in the last two games.
In addition to the struggles on defense, the Buffs made poor passes and took too many quick and rushed shots on offense.
"When you don't do the things you're supposed to do, you're going to get beat," Boyle said.
They did what they were supposed to do early, but the Buffs have to figure out to do those things for a full game.
"That's what is baffling to me, why we're so different to start the game vs. starting the second half," Boyle said. "I have to look at myself. I take the blame, I take the responsibility for this loss. Our team has to get better and it's my job to figure out how to do that.
"I believe in our players. We're not that far off. We just have to get a few things corrected to get it right. We don't have to change our whole makeup. We're just not playing consistently enough and mentally tough enough. Those are the two things with the Buffs that have to get better."