I want our identity to be built off of our defense and getting stops and knowing that the game becomes easier heading the other direction if we can do that. —Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak
SALT LAKE CITY — While heavy winds blew outside the Huntsman Center, the Utah Utes breezed to another lopsided victory inside it. They improved to 3-0 on the season with a 79-54 victory over Grand Canyon in opening-day play of the four-team, round-robin, Global Sports Hoops Showcase.
Jordan Loveridge finished with 15 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Utes, while Delon Wright was 8-for-8 from the field to lead all scorers with 17.
It didn’t take too much time for this one to get as wide as — you guessed it — the Grand Canyon. The visiting Antelopes missed their first seven shots and were held scoreless for nearly five minutes as the Utes raced out to an 11-0 advantage.
“I want our identity to be built off of our defense and getting stops and knowing that the game becomes easier heading the other direction if we can do that,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “Our guys have really been locked in to guard, and we can’t be the type of team that needs to see the ball go in the basket in order to get energized.”
Utah led 37-20 at halftime, holding distinct edges in rebounding (27-17), fast-break points (13-0), points off turnovers (13-2) and points in the paint (22-12). The Utes shot 46.7 percent from the field while holding the Antelopes to just 27.6 percent accuracy (1-of-10 from 3-point range).
Wright topped the Utes with 14 points at the break. Loveridge had 10 rebounds.
“I think it just started on the defensive end. We got some stops and then it just made our offense easier,” Loveridge said. “So that’s how we got up. We just outplayed them on the defensive end.”
Utah’s lead swelled to 26 in the second half as the Utes cruised to their third consecutive lopsided victory. They opened the season with a 128-44 win over Evergreen State before overpowering UC Davis 94-60 the following week,
The Global Sports Hoops Showcase continues with a doubleheader on Friday. Grand Canyon takes on Savannah State at 4 p.m. Utah then faces Lamar at 7 p.m. Saturday’s slate features Grand Canyon and Lamar at 2 p.m., followed by Utah and Savannah State at 5 p.m.
EXTRA STUFF: The attendance was 6,286. Parker Van Dyke had 12 points off the bench. Dallin Bachynski finished with 10 rebounds. Lamar defeated Savannah State 75-66 in Thursday’s opener. Admission to the tournament is a non-perishable donation to the Utah Food Bank. Upgrades to lower bowl seats may be purchased for $5. Utah’s games on Friday and Saturday will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.