Pac-12 basketball • Utes' backcourt at heart of slump.
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Glen Dean isn't worrying about scoring more or registering more assists. He doesn't fret over making open jumpers, or being aggressive offensively.
For the junior point guard at Utah, all of the above are current issues with his game. But basketball for Dean has ceased to be physical. Right now? It's all in his head. He's acknowledged that he's thinking too much on the court, instead of playing like he did during his days as one of Seattle's best high school players.
A two-game swing through his native land Washington State comes first on Wednesday night in Pullman is a hopeful one for Dean. He just wants to start playing like he knows he can.
"I know that I have to be a little more aggressive," Dean said. "The backcourt has to be more productive. We have to be threats in order to keep the floor spread. We have to play a little faster and attack teams from the jump, and that's what we aren't doing, and haven't been doing."
Attached to the Utes' 0-4 beginning to Pac-12 Conference play is the downward spiral of the play of starters Dean and Jarred DuBois. Frontcourt players Jordan Loveridge and Jason Washburn have carried the bulk of the scoring load. Dean and DuBois haven't been able to provide much of a balance, while guard Aaron Dotson has been slowed by nagging injuries, and Cedric Martin was never expected to be a scorer.
More in the spotlight is the fact that Dean and DuBois have had chances to make big shots but haven't done so.
DuBois missed a potential go-ahead jumper against national power Arizona in a close road loss two weeks ago. Dean missed multiple open looks in the final minutes last week against UCLA. If any of those shots had fallen, Utah might not be on a five-game losing streak.
Overall, the two haven't shot well, although DuBois played well this past Saturday against USC. Dean hasn't been scoring. He also hasn't been getting into the lane and creating for others, which explains why his assist numbers are down.
"I have to take my time a little bit more when I shoot the ball," DuBois said. "I think the backcourt as a whole can be a little more aggressive. Jason and Jordan have been great for us. I think we can do a little more to balance that out."
The pace of the offense is a big issue for the Utes. Too often, Utah finds itself looking up with precious few seconds remaining on the shot clock, causing one of the guards to force a shot with time running out.
That's been recognized by the coaching staff as a problem, and the Utes have worked to alleviate that in practice Monday and Tuesday. Utah doesn't want to run like the Oregons or Arizonas of the world. But the Utes do want to make it a little more difficult for other teams to defend them.
"We have to stop playing like robots," DuBois said. "We've talked about getting into the flow of things a little faster. We did a good job of moving the ball in practice the last two games. We just have to try and get shots off earlier in the clock."
Utah at Washington State
O At Beasley Coliseum, Pullman, Wash.
Tipoff • 7:30 p.m. MST
TV • Pac-12 Network
Radio • 700 AM
Records • Utah 8-8, 0-4 Pac-12; Washington State 9-7, 0-3
Series history • Utah leads, 14-2
Last meeting • Utah, 62-60 (Jan. 5, 2012)
About the Utes • Their first seven losses came by a combined 26 points. They were beaten by 17 against USC on Saturday. … Jarred DuBois has led the team in scoring five times this season. … Utah has shot less than 27 percent from 3-point range in three of its conference games. … Utah has handed out more assists than turnovers in five consecutive games.
About the Cougars • Washington State is 0-3 in conference play. … Cougars big man Brock Motum (19.8 ppg) is second in the league in scoring. … This is the second conference meeting between the teams.