SALT LAKE CITY — Although missed free throws were on his mind — and there were plenty of them — Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak thought things went pretty well in Friday’s 91-54 exhibition win over Saint Martin’s in the Huntsman Center.
“We’re doing OK. It was a good barometer to see where we are,” he said. “It was fun to play in front of the crowd.”
Jordan Loveridge led the Utes with 21 points. Delon Wright added 13 points, eight assists and eight rebounds.
“That guy’s a problem. Simple as that. He’s everywhere,” Loveridge said of Wright. “He’s going to make an impact on defense, offense — throw him out on the wing, throw him in the stands. I don’t know. He’s going to make an impact anywhere he is.”
Dakarai Tucker and Parker Van Dyke each contributed 12 points to the winning effort.
“I think we did well. Guys are learning their roles,” Loveridge said. “Guys are hitting shots. Guys are having fun. So it was good.”
After weeks of practices and scrimmages, Loveridge noted that it was nice to “beat up on someone else, get to guard someone else (and) run our stuff on someone else.”
Krystkowiak agreed. “It felt to get out on the court,” he said. “It’s that time of year.”
Utah built a 43-25 halftime advantage. The Utes never trailed as nine players grabbed rebounds and eight scored in the first half.
After building an early 10-point lead, Utah allowed Saint Martin’s to close the gap to 17-15 before regaining control with an 11-1 run. The Utes later added a 12-0 burst to pull away handily. They held the Saints without a field goal for the final 6:02 of the half.
“I think it was a combination of us getting some stops and getting out and running,” Krystkowiak said.
Wright led the Utes with 11 points at the break. Loveridge had 10 and Tucker contributed nine. Wright and Renan Lenz had six rebounds apiece, leading Utah to a commanding 25-13 advantage on the boards. The Utes widened the rebounding margin to 47-28 by game’s end.
Utah also increased its lead in the second half. The Utes took their biggest edge when Van Dyke hit a 3-pointer to cap all scoring in the contest with 41 seconds to go.
“I’m just excited from a coaching perspective — at this point of the year — to be able to look at a film that we’re only going to have five guys out there. It’s 40 minutes and this is kind of the first step in fixing some things that are broken,” Krystkowiak said. “That’s the whole thing. We’ve been talking about that for a couple of years now — is you get a barometer for where you’re at and then you try to fix those things that are broken.”
At the top of the list now is free-throw shooting. The Utes were a woeful 24 of 45 from the line in a game where 56 fouls were called as the teams adjusted to college basketball’s new “no hand-check rule.”
Krystkowiak said he’ll have his players shoot 100 free throws in practice Saturday as preparations gear up for Friday’s season opener against Evergreen State.
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