SALT LAKE CITY — You could tell from how decisively Jordan Loveridge went after the rebound on the first missed shot by Washington in the opening 15 seconds of Thursday night’s 78-69 Ute victory that it was going to be a different outcome for Utah on the boards.
The Utes had been outrebounded by big margins in their previous two games, which may have cost them chances at a couple of road victories. However, on this night, the Utes, particularly Loveridge, were all over the boards.
Loveridge finished with 13 rebounds as the Utes outboarded the Huskies 34-28, just the second time they had outrebounded an opponent in Pac-12 play.
“A lot of times in basketball, you’re going to improve at what you emphasize,” said Ute coach Larry Krystkowiak. “From the very first drill in practice on Monday morning, that’s what we started working on. Some of it’s a mindset and some is a technique and a focus on it.”
Loveridge has been the Utes’ leading rebounder this year but hadn’t had a double-digit rebounding total since the preseason win over Texas State when he had 11.
“We got killed on the boards at Arizona, we got killed on the boards versus Colorado and I just wanted to take it upon myself and challenge myself,” Loveridge said. “All week coach has been harping on getting rebounds on offense and defense. I just tried to go every time.”
Krystkowiak noted how important it was for Loveridge to have a big night on the boards.
“It was huge,” he said. “For him to have a double-double and finish with 13 rebounds, that was a big key for us. He had nine in the first half and that was big.”
Loveridge also finished with 16 points on 6 of 7 from the field and 4 of 5 from the free-throw line.
TURNOVER CITY: As happy as Krystkowiak was with Loveridge’s work on the glass, he wasn’t thrilled with his — or the entire team’s — sloppiness with the ball.
The Utes had a season-high 17 turnovers, including 10 in the first half, with Loveridge leading the way with seven miscues.
“Some of the passes and plays we made in the first half were pretty silly,” Krystkowiak said. “It’s more of a mindset. We had a chance to regroup at halftime and talk about it and weren’t so sloppy with it.”
WILCOX FINALE: Former Pleasant Grove standout C.J. Wilcox played his final game in Utah Saturday night and played well, leading Washington with 20 points on 6-of-12 shooting, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range and 4 of 4 from the foul line.
It was just above his season average of 19.6, but Krystkowiak was happy with the defense his team played on him, particularly Princeton Onwas off the bench.
“He fought his tail off defensively,” Krystkowiak said. “He takes a lot of pride in guarding the good players in this league.”
UTE NOTES: Saturday’s game with Washington State starts at 6 p.m. … This was Utah’s first win over Washington at home since clear back in 1970 when the Utes won 89-78 in the second year of what was then called Special Events Center. … Utah shot just 2 of 9 from 3-point range against the team that leads the Pac-12 in 3-point percentage. … The Utes shot 60 percent from the field, their best percentage in Pac-12 play and fourth best on the season. … Last month, Washington beat Utah 59-57 in Seattle. … The Huskies now lead the all-time series with the Utes, 8-7.
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