SALT LAKE CITY — As far as encores go, Utah’s follow-up to last Saturday’s lopsided win over BYU didn’t exactly melt the snow that fell throughout the day outside the Huntsman Center. It wasn’t exactly ice cold, either — even if some sluggishness followed the emotional victory against the Cougars.
Regardless of where it stood, Thursday night’s 69-50 win over Texas State proved to be noteworthy. The Utes picked up their 10th win of the season — reaching the milestone in just 11 games, the fastest the program has done so since going 10-0 in the NCAA finals campaign of 1997-98.
“It’s good stuff. But, again, we’ve got a ways to go and there’s going to be a lot of challenging ones and it has a lot more to do with the next one than it does the past 11,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “But it’s a much better taste, I think, in everybody’s mouth. It’s kind of validating the effort. We’ve been in a variety of different games and had a couple of games where we could have lost them — and maybe we would have in the past — but we figured out a way to pull through it and get over the hump.”
Sophomore guard Brandon Taylor acknowledged that reaching the double-digit win mark means a lot.
“It’s just more of a motivational factor,” he said. “If they did it (in 1997-98), we can do it. We can revive this program.”
Teammate Jordan Loveridge noted it’s good to be mentioned in such company.
“It’s nice to know that we’re being put into the same sentence as teams like that,” he said. “So it’s just something to build on. If they did that and then you see the success that they had the rest of their season hopefully we can have the same success.”
The Utes’ only loss this year was a 69-67 setback at Boise State on Dec. 3.
In getting past Texas State, Utah trailed only once — at 2-0. The Utes answered the early deficit with a 17-4 run. Five players scored during the decisive outburst, led by Delon Wright, who had eight.
After building a lead as large as 13 points, Utah settled for a 31-22 halftime advantage. Although Texas State closed the gap to four with just a little more than 12 minutes left to play, the Utes managed to pull away down the stretch to win their 12th consecutive game at home. They wound up with a game-high 20-point edge late in the second half.
Taylor paced the strong finish by scoring 13 of his game-high 18 points after the break.
“He’s a heck of a shooter and it didn’t surprise anybody when he started hitting some shots,” Krytskowiak said. “He’s been putting a lot of time in the gym and he’s a weapon from the perimeter.”
Loveridge and Wright contributed 14 and 13 points, respectively. Loveridge also had 10 rebounds.
Utah returns to action Dec. 28 in the Huntsman Center against St. Katherine. The Utes open Pac-12 play the following week at home against Oregon (Jan. 2) and Oregon State (Jan. 4).
EXTRA STUFF: The attendance was 7,857. ... Utah made 20 of its 24 foul shots. ... Emani Gant topped Texas State (3-8) with 16 points. ... The Utes had 10 players score and grab rebounds, six had assists and five made steals.
Utah basketball: Getting to 10 wins
Season Games 10th win (date)
2013-14 11 Texas State (Dec. 19)
2012-13 21 Colorado (Feb. 2)
2011-12 N/A N/A
2010-11 20 TCU (Jan. 22)
2009-10 19 Air Force (Jan. 23)
2008-09 15 LSU (Jan. 26)
2007-08 14 Dixie State (Jan. 9)
2006-07 27 New Mexico (Feb. 24)
2005-06 19 Wyoming (Feb. 1)
2004-05 13 Colorado (Dec. 30)
2003-04 13 Weber State (Jan. 3)
2002-03 13 St. Mary’s (Jan. 6)
2001-02 13 St. Mary’s (Jan. 7)
2000-01 16 UNLV (Jan. 16)
1999-00 12 Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Dec. 30)
1998-99 14 Ripon (Jan. 2)
1997-98 10 Oregon State (Dec. 20)