SALT LAKE CITY — It used to be that the Utah basketball team scored more than 100 points on a regular basis. In fact back in 1966, when the Utes went to the Final Four, they scored more than 100 points 11 times during the season.
However, before Friday night when the Utes walloped Willamette 104-47, it had been 17 years since a Ute team was able to break the century mark.
Walk-on Xan Rickets did the honors, hitting an inside shot with 1:36 left to put the Utes in triple figures for the first time since the Utes demolished Cal State Fullerton 108-58 in 1995.
The meager crowd on a snowy night at the Huntsman Center let out one of its biggest cheers of the evening, but there weren’t any free tacos or anything for the accomplishment.
It shouldn’t have been that surprising that the Utes won by 57 considering that the Bearcats are a Division III team that finished 5-20 a year ago. On the other hand, it was just a year ago, the Utes had to scrap and fight to hold off NAIA school San Diego Christian by three points, 58-55, in the opener.
With nearly an entirely new bunch of players, the Utes nearly matched last year’s opening-game total in the first half when they raced out to a 52-22 lead. By the end of the game, all 12 players had scored and the Utes had put six players in double figures with three true freshmen leading the way.
Jordan Loveridge finished with a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Justin Seymour scored 16 and Dakarai Tucker added 15.
Besides the three freshmen, newcomer Dallin Bachynski also had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, Jason Washburn scored 12 points and point guard Glen Dean scored 10.
“I was pretty pleased with it overall,’’ said second-year Ute coach Larry Krystkowiak. “I thought we had pretty good execution for the most part. We got the ball inside and were willing to make the extra pass. But the reality is we had a sizable advantage at every position and should get the ball inside and make the plays we did.’’
The Bearcats didn’t have a single player taller than 6-foot-6 and no player scored more than seven points in the game. For the game, Willamette shot just 22.1 percent from the field and was outrebounded 55 to 29.
The fans on hand, about half of the announced 6,242, had to be impressed with most of the Ute players, but the freshmen stood out. Besides Loveridge, Seymour and Tucker, guard Brandon Taylor had six points in 16 minutes, while forward Jeremy Olsen had four points and six rebounds in just seven minutes.
“I was really pleased with all five,’’ said Krystkowiak of his freshmen. “We started two of them and all five got a chance to play some good minutes. To me, when you see them on the court, they don’t seem like freshmen.’’
Despite the lopsided victory, Krystkowiak still had a few complaints, namely 19 turnovers, including six by Washburn. He also wasn’t happy with the 68-percent free-throw shooting.
But a win is a win and a 57-point win is a rarity at Utah.
“I’ll certainly take the result for the fact that we got a lot of guys out there and blew the gunk out of their motors,’’ he said.23 comments on this story
The Utes’ next game is Friday against Sacramento State, followed by three home games the following week in their first home tournament in 24 years.
UTE NOTES: Ute senior Jarred DuBois sat out the game with a hip injury that is expected to keep him out about a week. ... Willamette backup guard Oliver Hughes, who played high school basketball for Judge Memorial, scored six points. ... Last year, the Utes never scored more than 75 points in a game. ... The Utes shot 62.7 percent from the field.