Brandon Taylor led the Utes with 18 points this evening
Dec. 19, 2013
Delon Wright added 13 points for the Utes (10-1), who held the Bobcats to just 38.3 percent shooting (18-of-47) and forced a total of 15 turnovers. Texas State shot just 18.2 percent (2-of-11) from beyond the arc.
"It was hard bouncing back," head coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "It's human nature since there was so much energy here Saturday. I'm glad we had some practices between now and then. This is a good group of guys who don't get overconfident. I'm sure it had a little bit of an effect on a night like this."
Emani Gant scored 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting for Texas State and helped the Bobcats finish with a 30-20 edge in points in the paint. Still, Texas State (3-8) could not overcome poor shooting and miscues long enough to seriously threaten Utah down the stretch.
A sluggish start after halftime put Utah in dangerous territory. The Utes hit just 3-of-11 shots to open the second half and it opened the door for Texas State to threaten Utah's once-comfortable lead. The Bobcats chipped away at the lead and pulled to within four after Wes Davis stole a pass from Wright and fed Gant for a layup to make it 38-34.
Utah finally came to life on offense after Taylor drained a 3-pointer a few seconds later. Wright converted a 3-point play on the next possession and the baskets helped fuel a decisive 17-4 spurt for the Utes. By the time Dakarai Tucker drained a jumper to cap the run, Utah held a 55-38 lead with 7:46 left.
"We didn't play really hard," Krystkowiak added. "People focus on defensive effort but we played well there and really did a nice job. We were just going through the motion on offense against their packed-in zone. In the first half, we only had three assists. We need to be sharper and stop committing turnovers. Luckily, we put it together in the 2nd half."
Utah did a good job putting extra pressure on Texas State right out of the gate. The Utes trapped along the baselines and in the corners to force the Bobcats into committing several early turnovers. Texas State committed 11 turnovers in the first half alone and Utah had a 13-2 edge on points off turnovers by halftime.
Utah forced four turnovers in the game's first seven minutes to take control early. The final one of those four came when Wright stole the ball and took it in for a layup, giving the Utes a 17-6 lead. It capped a 14-2 run that erased an early 4-3 lead for Texas State.
The Bobcats tried to rally without success. Wes Davis scored a pair of layups to help halt Utah's initial run. Texas State cut the deficit to six at 20-14 when Corey Stern buried a pair of free throws with 9:19 left before halftime.
Loveridge answered with a layup and added a 3-pointer a minute later to help Utah boost the lead back to 26-14. The Utes went ice cold from the field after that point, making a single field goal over the final 7:46 of the first half. Despite struggling offensively, Loveridge still managed his fifth double-double of the season.
"The one thing you can control is effort and that's what rebounding is,' Loveridge said. "My dad has always told me that if you're not shooting well, you can always rebound."
Texas State could not take advantage. The Bobcats only made two field goals in the same stretch -- both 3-pointers from Phil Hawkins -- and trailed 31-22 at halftime.
The Utes are back in action on Dec. 28 with a 2 p.m. contest vs. St. Katherine.