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Utah basketball: As expected, Utes overpower St. Katherine

Published: Saturday, July 4 2015 3:09 a.m. MDT

Utah Utes guard Brandon Taylor (11) drives to the basket as St. Katherine Firebirds forward Jonathan Wood (1) defends during a game at the Jon M. Hunstman Center on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News) Utah Utes guard Brandon Taylor (11) drives to the basket as St. Katherine Firebirds forward Jonathan Wood (1) defends during a game at the Jon M. Hunstman Center on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — It didn’t take long for Utah’s nonconference finale to materialize as expected. Things developed quickly in the Utes’ 124-51 rout of St. Katherine.

Saturday afternoon’s game in the Huntsman Center was over early — ranking somewhere quite high on the ugly scale in terms of competitiveness.

This was no beauty, just a beast as Utah (11-1) jumped out to a 19-0 advantage. St. Katherine (2-13) missed its first 12 shots from the field and didn’t score until Alex Perez hit a long 3-pointer with 10:32 remaining in the first half. The Utes held a 19-2 rebounding edge at the time.

“We just prepared like it was another game. We didn’t want to have any letdowns. If they would have got hot at the start it would have been a long game for us probably,” said Utah forward Jordan Loveridge, who led all scorers with 17 points. “So we wanted to just come out and play our game and that’s what happened.”

Utah Utes guard Ahmad Fields (13) goes to the basket as St. Katherine Firebirds center Stephen Merrell (50) defends during a game at the Jon M. Hunstman Center on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News) Utah Utes guard Ahmad Fields (13) goes to the basket as St. Katherine Firebirds center Stephen Merrell (50) defends during a game at the Jon M. Hunstman Center on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News)

By halftime, Utah’s lead had swelled to 55-14. Eleven of the 12 Utes that saw action scored or grabbed a rebound. Eight players were credited with assists, five with blocks and four had a steal.

Utah outrebounded St. Katherine 37-10 in the first half and held the Firebirds to 10 percent (3-of-30) shooting from the field.

St. Katherine, an NAIA school from Encinitas, Calif., in the midst of its first season of basketball, fell into a much deeper deficit in the second half. The Firebirds wound up trailing by as many as 74 points. They were outrebounded 71-12 and allowed the Utes to shot 79.4 percent in the second half.

Contributions were plentiful. Besides Loveridge, Utah had four other players score in double figures — Dakarai Tucker (14), Ahmad Fields (13), Parker Van Dyke (11) and Dallin Bachynski (10). Delon Wright grabbed 15 rebounds and Fields pulled down 10.

Utah Utes guard Ahmad Fields (13) is fouled by St. Katherine Firebirds center Stephen Merrell (50) during a game at the Jon M. Hunstman Center on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News) Utah Utes guard Ahmad Fields (13) is fouled by St. Katherine Firebirds center Stephen Merrell (50) during a game at the Jon M. Hunstman Center on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News)

“We executed,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “For the most part guys stuck with the game plan and did a tremendous job sharing the basketball.”

Now comes Pac-12 play. The Utes host Oregon and Oregon State next week, ushering in an 18-game conference schedule. Things tip off with the 12th-ranked Ducks on Thursday.

“I’m really excited to finally get into Pac-12,” Wright said. “I think it’ll be a good game for us to test where we are right now and hopefully make some noise.”

EXTRA STUFF: The attendance was 9,954. ... Utah wound up with 31 assists. ... The Utes won the battle of second-chance (28-4) and fast-break (17-2) points. ... Junior college transfer Marko Kovacevic made his Utah debut. The forward had eight points and six rebounds in eight minutes of action. ... St. Katherine lost at San Diego State 118-35 on Friday night and caught a flight to Salt Lake City early Saturday morning.

Utah Utes guard/forward Princeton Onwas (3) splits the St. Katherine Firebirds defense for a basket during a game at the Jon M. Hunstman Center on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News) Utah Utes guard/forward Princeton Onwas (3) splits the St. Katherine Firebirds defense for a basket during a game at the Jon M. Hunstman Center on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News)

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