SALT LAKE CITY — It didn’t take a little Listerine or even a shot of Scope to freshen things up for the Utah Utes. They got the bad taste of squandering a 21-point lead to Cal State Northridge on Dec. 21 out of their mouths with a 72-38 victory over the College of Idaho on Friday night in the Huntsman Center.
“I think we needed to play again, for sure. The timing of that one was rough when you’re going into a Christmas break. As much fun as I had with my family, there were still points where you’re starting to break that fun meter open a little bit and then you just kind of remembered what just took place — one of those things,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said, while noting he’s a firm believer in everything happening for a reason. “That game’s disappointing. You look back at Sac State, BYU and we’re not that far away from having a record like a lot of teams in our league have right now.”
Krystkowiak added that everyone came back focused after Christmas and practiced well.
“Guys want to get that taste out of their mouth and playing and winning the game was probably the best way to do that,” he said.
The ‘Yotes, an NAIA team from Caldwell, put up little resistance as the Utes wrapped up nonconference play with an 8-4 record. They open Pac-12 play next week at Arizona State and Arizona.
“It got us in the right frame of mind,” said Utah center Jason Washburn. “We’ve still got some things we’ve got to work on. We’re heading down to Arizona, two very tough places to play and we’ve got to bring our ‘A’ game.”
Jordan Loveridge led the way in the final tune-up with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Brandon Taylor added 14 points, while Jarred DuBois contributed eight assists, seven points and six rebounds.
After coming off the bench for nine consecutive games, Washburn returned to the starting lineup — swapping places with sophomore Dallin Bachynski at center.
“I tried to come in with the same aggressive mindset that kept me going when I came off the bench — trying to attack the rim and try to get myself going right off the bat,” said Washburn, who finished with 10 points. “And it seemed to work again tonight.”
Utah got off to a 5-0 start with Washburn adding a basket following a 3-pointer by Glen Dean. The early outburst, along with a defensive effort that pressured the College of Idaho into missing its first seven shots from the field, allowed the Utes to weather a sluggish stretch offensively. They maintained the lead throughout, despite the ‘Yotes cutting it to 9-8 at one point.
Later in the half, Utah broke things open with a 14-0 run over a span of almost five minutes. Taylor led the surge with eight points off the bench. Bachynski, Dakarai Tucker and DuBois also scored in the outburst that extended the Utes’ lead to 30-12 with 6:27 remaining in the half.
Utah held a 37-20 advantage at the break. Loveridge had eight points and seven rebounds for the Utes, while DuBois had a team-high three assists and three steals. The latter highlighted a defense that held the College of Idaho scoreless over the final 3:59 of the half.
The shutout streak continued for nearly three more minutes when play resumed. Utah’s lead swelled to 34 when Taylor connected on a 3-pointer with 26 seconds left to play.
EXTRA STUFF: The attendance was 7,943. ... Senior guard Cedric Martin missed his third consecutive game because of a groin injury. ... After the Arizona trip, Utah returns home to face UCLA (Jan. 10) and USC (Jan. 12). ... Sydney Donaldson led the College of Idaho with 10 points.