Men’s Basketball: Utah prepping for tough road test at Washington

basketball 13 Justin Adams

After back-to-back wins for the first time in Pac-12 play this season, Utah is looking to keep its hot streak going against the Washington Huskies on Sunday.

The Utes had a dominant performance against Washington State on Thursday night, and they are hoping to use their momentum from the 92-71 win to propel themselves against a stiff Washington team currently sitting on top of the conference.

Utah will primarily be concerned with Washington senior Andrew Andrews. This season, Andrews is averaging 22 points per game and 6.3 rebounds.

Jordan Loveridge knows how important it is to stop him so they can disrupt the entire Huskies squad.

“They’re a tough team, and Andrew Andrews is kind of the head of the snake,” Loveridge said in an interview with ESPN 700. “He makes a lot of great plays and is having a great senior year, and they have a lot of great young guys that have been playing really well, so it’ll be a tough challenge.”

To combat the star power of Andrew, Utah will be relying on its own star in Jakob Poeltl.

After an injury in practice somewhat hampered his play more than a week ago, Poeltl’s been steadily working his way back to his normal self. In Utah’s last outing against Washington State he scored 14 points, and although he only had five rebounds, he did dish out five assists.

Head coach Larry Krystkowiak was glad to see him have that kind of a night after speaking with Poeltl before the game. He told the sophomore center to be stronger with the ball and not let anyone swat it away. Then, if Poeltl wasn’t going to score as soon as he received the ball, he would need to survey the court and see if the other team was going to bring a double team and look for other options —something he has been struggling with in the early part of the season.

“It’s so cool when you mention something to a player the day of a game and then you see it come to fruition,” Krystkowiak said in an interview with ESPN 700. “You can watch him when he’s listening to you and he’s putting it in his memory bank and it’s all part of his progression.”

While he hopes his entire team is playing with more confidence, Krystkowiak understands how much of challenge getting a win in Seattle will be. Like Loveridge, he thinks any of the players on Washington’s side have the capability to take over, and he hopes his team will be ready for anything.

“They get up and down the floor, switch everything defensively and put some heat on you,” Krystkowiak said in the interview. “Talk about a team that’s playing with confidence. It’s an exciting brand of basketball right now in Seattle, and we’re going to have to be locked and loaded.”

Loveridge is just looking for the Utes to continue playing as a team and thinks their last win will be able to power them through Sunday’s game.

“We’re excited to get out there and hopefully carry momentum from this game,” Loveridge said.

Game time is set for 5:30 p.m. PT.

k.brenneisen@dailyutahchronicle.com

@kbrenneisen