Utah basketball: Jordan Loveridge back on track for surging Utes
By Tony Jones
The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published Mar 02 2014 05:24PM
This much is simple: If Jordan Loveridge plays like he has the past two games, Utah is a difficult team to beat.
That much was proved last Sunday when Utah’s star sophomore scored 18 points and grabbed six rebounds at the Huntsman Center against Arizona State. The result was a blowout win over one of the better teams in the Pac-12.
That much was proved Saturday in the Utes’ 75-64 conquest of Colorado when the West Jordan native dropped in 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds, both game-highs. The two performances came on the heels of some of his worst basketball of the season. But he seems to have bounced back.
"I just think my teammates have believed in me, and have trusted me and have given me the ball in spots where I can do something with it," Loveridge said. "I was able to get comfortable and I was able to make shots."
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said that watching Loveridge against Colorado, he thought the ball was going to go in on every shot. Indeed, against the Buffaloes, Loveridge went 9-for-14 from the field. It was one of his most efficient performances of the season.
The Utes actively ran plays to get Loveridge the ball 15 feet from the basket, where he could work. His best play was a pretty crossover on Wesley Gordon, accompanied with a jumper. He rebounded the ball, pushed it on the fast break and finished at the rim as well.
"He hasn’t had many opportunities because of the height of teams in this league," Krystkowiak said. "We threw the ball inside and that opened things up. Jordan was able to hit some shots and Colorado didn’t really double him like he’s been facing with some other teams.
"He took the right shots at the right time. He made solid passes and other than the first four minutes, he played really well defensively."
The key is for Loveridge to play this well on the road against California on Wednesday and Stanford on Saturday. He’s become a barometer of late, and with Utah desperately needing a road win, he will be an important piece to what the Utes are trying to accomplish in the last week of the regular season.