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Tough week ahead for BYU basketball: final exams, undefeated Oregon
Looks like CBSSports.com has named Utah's Jordan Loveridge its National Player of the Week after the sophomore from West Jordan led Utah to wins over Idaho State and BYU last week. Loveridge finished with 21 points, six rebounds and five steals while playing all but two minutes of the 81-64 win over BYU. He had 27 points and seven rebounds against ISU.
Loveridge is also the Pac-12 Player of the Week.
He deserved the honors, mostly because his scoring flurry at the start of the game got the crowd into it early, and pumped confidence into his teammates. The Cougars got hit in the mouth early, looked like they didn't know what hit them, and never really recovered. As Kyle Collinsworth said after the game, props to Loveridge for outplaying everyone else on the court in the early going.<
I regret not asking BYU coach Dave Rose about their defensive game plan early on Loveridge. Whatever it was, it didn't work. Then again, Loveridge did make some tough shots when guys had hands in his face. He was just in the zone for those first seven minutes of the game. Sometimes, there's not much you can do about it.
"They came out with a lot of energy and shot the ball really well. That's a good team. They are 8-1 for a reason. Their offensive numbers, like I told you during the week, are really impressive," Rose said after the game when asked about the start generally. "It is a driving team. They can get to the rim and kick the ball [for shots]. And when they get a guy shooting the ball that well, it kind of reminded me of the Boise State game in here a year ago when they just got off to a great start and kind of kept the hammer down."
Loveridge and Delon Wright (16 points, 7 assists) got the lion's share of the credit for Utah's big win, but I thought Utah's bench clearly outplayed BYU's bench, outscoring it 28-17 despite a couple late baskets by BYU's Skyler Halford in garbage time.
Utah's big guys off the bench — Dallin Bachynski and Jeremy Olsen — were especially effective. Crazy to think that Bachynski basically quit Utah's team last January for what was called an "indefinite break" then rejoined it a week later. And East High product Parker Van Dyke made a pair of huge 3-pointers in the first half to keep the Utes' confidence level up when Loveridge started to fade. Van Dyke delayed a church mission because he believes he has a chance to be a factor for the Utes this year. So far, so good.
"We had a lot of chances in the first half. It [the Utah lead] got up to 15 or 16 and I think we got three or four straight stops, and we came down and dribbled the ball off our foot," Rose said.
Here's my follow from the game, and look ahead to Saturday's road game at No. 13 Oregon (9-0), which moved up two spots in today's Associated Press Top 25 (from No. 15) after beating Illinois by seven in Portland on Saturday.
It certainly appears that the Cougars (8-4) are headed toward their second-straight lopsided road game. Oregon is loaded, and as if that's not enough, two key players rejoin the Ducks on Tuesday for their game against UC Irvine. BYU almost certainly will be on a two-game losing skid when it opens WCC play on Dec. 28 at Loyola Marymount.
Did Rose or anyone else in blue see the rout coming last Saturday?
"No, we practiced really well," Rose said. "These guys are really competitive guys, so this will hurt. We have to go home and take finals for three or four days, and then get ready for Oregon. So it doesn't get any easier."
Tyler Haws and Kyle Collinsworth also emerged from a somber BYU locker room Saturday night to talk to reporters. Here are a few comments from them: