SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Larry Krystkowiak didn't sound all that bothered by the defense for No. 16 Utah in a blowout loss to Miami.
Turnovers, however, were another matter.
"You can't defend turnovers," the coach said after Friday's 90-66 loss in the Puerto Rico Tipoff. "It just puts too much strain on your basketball squad to have to do that and it's really hard to overcome."
Miami certainly didn't need a lot of help considering it shot 53 percent from the field, but the Utes' 16 turnovers were what turned the game into a romp. Miami had a 16-0 edge in points off turnovers by halftime and finished at 23-4, repeatedly deflecting balls and getting out in transition for easy scores.
It's no surprise that turnovers were the first thing Krystkowiak mentioned when he arrived at his postgame news conference.
"They're a physical team, they did a nice job defending us," he said. "Anytime you score 23 points off your turnovers, it's impossible to defend those. I don't know if I've even heard of that many points off of turnovers. So when we throw the ball up they pick it off and go throw it in, that's really hard to overcome."
Miami advanced to the championship round with its second straight lopsided win. Sheldon McClellan scored 27 points and Tonye Jekiri added 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Hurricanes (4-0), who took control early and never let the Utes make a serious push to climb back in it.
Jordan Loveridge scored 18 points for Utah (3-1), which had its own good-shooting performance and even managed to slow Miami's torrid shooting after halftime.
The Hurricanes put the Utes away with a 9-0 burst — ending with a 3-pointer and a pitch-ahead layup from McClellan off a turnover — for a 75-55 lead with 5:17 left.
Utah found no real way to slow the Hurricanes, who shot 59 percent in the opening half and got a 3-pointer from James Palmer just before halftime for a 46-32 lead at the break. And the frustration finally boiled over for Krystkowiak, who picked up a quick technical foul after springing up to protest a no-call on a driving miss from Jakob Poeltl with 13:32 left.
It was quite the encore for a team that started its stay in Puerto Rico by shooting 57 percent and flirting with the Tipoff's scoring record in Thursday night's 105-79 win against Mississippi State.
Utah had to fight through the second half to get through Thursday's opener against Texas Tech, and just couldn't keep up with the Hurricanes. The Utes shot 50 percent and made eight 3-pointers, but the turnovers and Miami's effort on the glass were too much to overcome.
Miami: Angel Rodriguez, playing in his native San Juan, had 11 points and four assists. ... Miami made 9 of 17 3-pointers and 19 of 25 free throws. ... The Hurricanes committed just seven turnovers.
Utah: Poeltl scored 16 points and was the only other Utah player to reach double figures. ... Utah finished with just four offensive rebounds and five second-chance points. ... Utah shot 55 percent in the first half.
Miami: Takes on No. 22 Butler on Sunday in the championship game.
Utah: Faces Temple on Sunday in the third-place game.