Like he has all season long, Jakob Poeltl paved the path for victory as Utah got another win against Washington State, 88-47 in the Huntsman Center on Sunday afternoon.
Poeltl led all scorers with 25 points and 10 rebounds, his 10th double-double of the season, as the entire Ute squad finished the game shooting 53.2 percent from the floor and 47.1 percent from three-point range.
Head coach Larry Krystkowiak thinks his team was dialed in defensively and its defense is a big reason why the offense was successful.
“We played pretty well,” Krystkowiak said. “ I thought we got a great boost off the bench, some energy. Led by Jakob’s performance, established the post and we got stops.”
Jordan Loveridge was next with 14 points, five rebounds and three assists. Brekkott Chapman followed with 12 points off the bench, and Kyle Kuzma had 10 points. Aside from Lorenzo Bonam, all Utah players were able to finish the game with one basket.
While Loveridge wouldn’t necessarily say it was the team’s most complete game, he’s happy a lot of the bench players were able to get in some minutes.
“It was fun to get out on play on both ends,” Loveridge said. “It’s nice to get some other guys in who don’t get to play because we’re going to need everyone down the stretch.”
Not much got the crowd going in the opening minutes of the first half after both teams got off to a dull start. Washington State turned the ball over four times, and Utah turned it over twice in the first four minutes.
Utah eventually took a 10-6 lead because the Cougars continued to turn the ball over, eventually finishing the game with 18. Loveridge got WSU’s Brett Boese to fall for a shot fake and Boese fouled him on the three-point line. He extended Utah’s lead to eight points after making all three free throws.
Poeltl had the hot hand early on — in the first 11 minutes of the game, he had 12 points. But he wasn’t the only one who was feeling it.
Soon, Loveridge stole the ball, took it coast to coast, and got his layup to drop with the foul. Then, Chapman came in for Kuzma, who had two fouls, and immediately drained a three-pointer. On Utah’s next possession, Loveridge got another three to fall and put the Utes up by 20 points, 34-14.
Going into the half, Utah led 40-21 and was shooting 50 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three-point range. The Utes cut back on turnovers and had a total of five heading into the locker room. Conversely, Wazzu was shooting just 31.8 percent from the field and 22.2 percent from beyond the arc.
After scoring 16 in the first half, Poeltl continued to assert his dominance and scored a quick six points to kick off the second, two of which came from a one-handed slam to wake up the crowd.
Taylor then drained a corner three to get on the board for the Utes with 16:42 left in the game, and on Utah’s following possession, he got another three to drop to put the Utes up 54-24, forcing Washington State to call a timeout.
After not scoring at all in the first half, Taylor was getting into rhythm and got another three-pointer to fall soon after. The majority of Utah’s starters went to the bench as the the Utes continued to run up the score.
Austin Eastman entered the game, much to the crowd’s delight, and was able to get on the board after making a three-pointer. Utah went on to win the game, finishing the game with just eight turnovers.
Although the Utes are walking away with a 41-point win, Loveridge knows there are still things to work on.
“There were mistakes that we can fix and better ourselves,” Loveridge said. “In a game like this, you got to keep playing hard no matter what the score is and try to do some things that you don’t get to practice. ”
The Utes go out on the road this week for its final road trip of the regular season against the two LA schools, UCLA on Thursday and USC on Sunday.