Utah basketball: Defensive-minded Utes to take on Texas State

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 18 2013 5:55 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah got downright defensive and then some in Saturday’s 81-64 win over BYU.

The Cougars came in averaging 89.9 points per game and were shooting 46.6 percent from the field. Against the Utes, though, they managed to connect on just 32.8 percent of their attempts.

Utah’s transition defense proved especially tough, limiting BYU to just six fast-break points. The Utes really applied the clamps in improving to 9-1 on the season.

“We had a group of guys that played really, really hard,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “ ... But our focus, first and foremost, was defense and we did it collectively.”

Krytskowiak noted that the Utes had a lot of guys back and showed BYU their numbers so that the Cougars didn’t have penetration angles and weren’t able to score early. Another key, he added, were personnel tendencies that took strengths away.

“You can talk about making our shots and doing all that, (but) we were committed to playing defense,” Krystkowiak said.

For the longest time, he recalled, BYU was stuck on five points. Utah, in fact, built an 18-5 advantage before Kyle Collinsworth made a foul shot to move the Cougars to six with 13:11 remaining in the first half.

The Utes, Krystkowiak reiterated, were more committed to making stops than anything else. He said that makes the game easier on the offensive end.

It certainly worked out that way. Utah forward Jordan Loveridge scored 15 of his game-high 21 points less than seven minutes into the game as the Utes pulled away handily.

“It was good. We just executed the game plan,” Loveridge said. “We knew if we got back in transition and didn’t allow easy buckets that we felt that we could guard them in the half court. So that’s what we did.”

On Thursday, Utah gets its next chance to get defensive and extend an 11-game winning streak at home. The Utes (9-1) take on Texas State (3-7) in the Huntsman Center at 7 p.m. Utah defeated the Bobcats 74-69 last season in San Marcos.

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer

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