Utah basketball: Freshman Jordan Loveridge cleans up in paint
Seattle • Earlier in the week, Larry Krystkowiak called Jordan Loveridge, his prized freshman, into the film room, a teaching moment if you will.
What they both saw wasn't pretty. For a 6-foot-7 power forward, Loveridge was taking way too many outside jumpers. He was settling, really, making it easier for opponents to guard him and not getting into the lane and making his presence felt.
"They told me that they wanted me to start mixing things up more," Loveridge said. "That was a big issue for us this week."
In getting the rookie from West Jordan to diversify his game more, Krystkowiak looks like a prophet. Utah defeated Washington on Saturday night, 74-65, in a game that really wasn't that close. In the victory, Loveridge was one of the best players on the floor.
He scored 17 points, grabbed five rebounds and handed out four assists. He stuck his nose in the paint and came up with a huge rebound basket late, allowing the Utes to push their lead to 62-54 and stave off a Washington run.
Loveridge made mid-range jump shots. He put the ball on the floor and went to the basket.
"He was very good for us," Krystkowiak said. "We showed him a lot of film of undersized power forwards putting the ball on the floor and going to the basket. He creates a lot of problems for the defense when he plays that way. The jumpers from three are always going to be there, and he can shoot them. But when he plays like this, it's much more difficult for teams to deal with him."
His four assists all came from going to the hoop and setting up teammates, especially fellow big man Jason Washburn, for easy baskets. Loveridge scored four points late in the second half, when the Huskies were trying to make a furious comeback.
He ran the floor, and he shot a good percentage, which he hadn't done in previous matchups against USC and Washington State.
With Brandon Taylor coming on strong at the point, he and Loveridge are providing Utah with a freshman tandem that could provide the program a base as it attempts to rebuild itself.
The win over Washington, on the road in a hostile environment, is just the latest sign that Utah is trying to return to its historical ways.
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