Utah basketball: After snapping road skid at USC, Utes visit UCLA
Gus Ruelas, AP
LOS ANGELES — So much for time to celebrate. Less than 48 hours after a 79-71 win at USC, the Utah Utes take on UCLA at historic Pauley Pavilion. They do so on the heels of snapping an 11-game skid on opposing teams' home floors, a slide that went on for more than a year and included 10 Pac-12 contests.
After Friday’s practice at UCLA, Utah forward Jordan Loveridge noted that it felt real good to get a breakthrough win.
“With us getting a lot of losses on the road it’s just been on our minds going into some games that it’s going to be tougher, which it is,” he said. “ ... So just to finally get some confidence and know that we can finish a game and win a game on the road was good.”
Although they nearly let a 17-point lead slip away in the second half at USC, the Utes never let the Trojans ever get within a single possession of tying it up down the stretch. Loveridge thwarted a final threat by nailing a 3-pointer with 1:32 remaining to put the game out of reach at 76-68.
“We knew we had a 17-point lead and they came back. We knew we just had to kind of weather the storm and just keep going,” Loveridge said. “We just had to hit a couple of shots and fortunately I hit a big shot and we hit some free throws down the stretch and we were grateful that we got the win.”
USC jumped out to an early 21-14 advantage before Utah stormed back and took the lead for good. Delon Wright led the Utes with 20 points, while Loveridge finished with 19. Dakarai Tucker and Dallin Bachynski each added 13.
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak chalked up the sluggish start to the guys not playing hard enough. He told the team so during a timeout, sparking the decisive response.
“We’ve got to come with more energy on the road,” said Loveridge, who acknowledged that things turned their way once they did.
Now that they have a successful taste for it, Krystkowiak is hopeful it’s something his players can kind of put in a bottle and use on the road. He referred to it as the positive medicine of a win.
The victory over the Trojans was the Utes’ sixth Pac-12 triumph of the season — the most since joining the conference in 2011-12.
“It feels great,” Krystkowiak said of putting the lengthy road woes to rest.
EXTRA STUFF: The Utes topped the Bruins 74-69 in the Huntsman Center on Jan. 18. ... UCLA defeated Colorado 92-74 on Thursday. ... The Bruins are unranked. They are, however, receiving votes in both major rankings. ... UCLA is led by sophomore guard Jordan Adams (16.8 points, 5.7 rebounds) and sophomore swingman Kyle Anderson (15.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 6.8 assists).
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