It was dang near a perfect game in terms of focus and some execution and playing with some effort —Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak
PULLMAN, Wash. — Although there wasn’t much of an atmosphere with an announced crowd of 2,717 at Beasley Coliseum, the Utah Utes put on quite a show late Thursday. Numerous things went well in a 92-71 victory over Washington State.
“I thought we made a real concerted effort this week to improve,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak, who noted the offense was simplified and his team came out and guarded on defense.
“It was dang near a perfect game in terms of focus and some execution and playing with some effort,” he added.
The Utes improved to 14-5 overall and 3-3 in Pac-12 play with the win. They play at Washington on Sunday (6:30 p.m., ESPNU).
Before heading for Seattle, though, Utah put together a complete game at Washington State. The Utes got off to a quick start — something they didn’t do in a homestand against the Oregon schools — and had a solid showing on both ends of the floor.
“It felt good. That’s what you want,” Krystkowiak said. “You want to be able to put some things together where you’re playing defense, you’re hitting shots, you’re sharing the ball and you've got a lot of different weapons that are contributing.”
Utah, which built a lead of 27 late in the game, was led by 22 points from Jordan Loveridge. Brandon Taylor added 21, while Jakob Poeltl and Lorenzo Bonam contributed 14 and 13, respectively.
The Utes shot 55.6 percent from the field and were 11 of 22 from 3-point range. They made 11 of 12 shots from the line.
Utah excelled in other areas as well — overpowering the Cougars in rebounding (34-24), points off turnovers (22-3) and points in the paint (42-24).
“A number of guys stepped up," Krystkowiak said. "That’s really what you’re looking for, kind of how you draw it up, and hopefully this is the start of something. I talked before the game that I really want to encourage our guys to have a sense of a revival almost, like let's make this a turning point.”
The guys, he explained, really bought into it.
“We’ve got some talent in the locker room,” Krystkowiak said. “I don’t feel like we’re happy with the way we’ve been playing and there’s more in the tank for us. I challenged everybody and we have to keep it going. You have to build on it.”
Loveridge acknowledged it was a revival of sorts.
“It was good to get off to a good start like we did tonight and just have some success on the road — just kind of start getting some wins in the Pac-12,” he said. “It was nice to see guys hit shots and it just gives us a lot of confidence. I think we hit shots because we defended really well right off the bat.”
Once you defend, Loveridge explained, it kind of opens the rest of the game up.
Taylor noted that Krystkowiak’s message prior to the game involved “going out there and doing what you do best.” It was taken to heart.
“I thought our focus during this week’s practices was there. We knew the things we needed to work on and we focused on them,” Taylor said. “Then we made some progress. Today I think we did a great job of coming out from the start and not having such a lackadaisical start. I think today was one of our better games of coming out and maintaining that momentum that we had.”
After closing this trip out at Washington, Utah plays seven of its final 11 conference games in the Huntsman Center.
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