Utes get back on track by beating USC
Utah faced the USC Trojans on Thursday and needed a win desperately. How would this team respond after shooting horribly and losing close games? The Utes continue to get off the mat whenever they are knocked down and their resilient effort was on display again Thursday night. Larry Krystkowiak said that he was sick to his stomach the last couple days because of the tough losses on the Washington road trip and wanted to see his guys succeed. During the postgame interviews, you could feel a sense of relief from both Delon Wright and Dakari Tucker after the game. The team knows that they are close to winning a few more games and have been frustrated because they continued to fall short. They played a decent first half and switched gears in the second half to pull away behind a career night from Dakari Tucker.
The Utes had a shaky start, but had the lead going in to the break. Coming home and playing in front of Ute fans was huge for guys like Dakari Tucker. In the first 20 minutes, Tucker went 3-6 from the field including 2-4 from beyond the arc. His 10 points and 2 rebounds in the first half were huge when Utah was struggling to score. Tucker would go on to score a career-high 18 points. Jordan Loveridge had a decent first 20 minutes by scoring 7 points, but only on 3-9 shooting. He'd finish with 16 points on 7-17 shooting. Loveridge also had 5 rebounds and 4 assists to round out a pretty solid night for the sophomore. With Lenz going down, Utah needed a spark from their bigs. Jeremy Olsen provided that spark in the first half by scoring 8 points, grabbing 4 rebounds, and registering an assist and a block. Dallin Bachynski carried his weight by scoring six-second half points and securing 3 rebounds. He did a lot of things that didn't necessarily show up in the stat sheet, but was a nuisance for the USC bigs all night. Utah's center's had first half foul trouble, but that didn't play too big of role later in the game even though Bachynski would foul out when the game was secured. USC played tough and got some good minutes out of Pe'shon Howard who scored 16 points on 5-11 shooting, but only had 4-second half points. Omar Oraby also played well by grabbing 7 rebounds, scoring 8 points and blocking 2 shots. USC has some nice pieces, but is still a year or two away from seriously competing in the Pac-12.
Up next for Utah is the UCLA Bruins. The Bruins knocked off injured Colorado on Thursday night and are ranked 25th in the country. Former New Mexico Head Coach, Steve Alford is now with the Bruins and has his team playing some pretty good ball. They are 3-1 in conference play with the lone loss against the Arizona Wildcats. They are a loaded team that plays well together and on the road. A win on Saturday would be huge for the program. Pack the Huntsman Saturday afternoon to help give the team a true home court advantage.
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