Utah basketball: Increased attention slows down Jordan Loveridge
Seattle • Sophomore Jordan Loveridge is finding out what it means to be a star in the Pac-12.
It means media attention and adulation from the fans. But it means attention from opposing teams.
The next step in his evolution as a player is having an impact when teams try to take him out of games. Washington did that Wednesday night by consistently running extra defenders his way when he touched the ball.
The Huskies' scheme worked in a 59-57 win over the Utes. They held Loveridge, Utah's leading scorer, to 10 points and seven rebounds. He went 3 of 8 from the field and missed his two 3-point attempts.
"I think he's got a big bull's-eye on his back, and teams know who he is," Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "He's got to fight through that. He's got to stay with things and not get taken out."
Loveridge played 36 minutes but only took eight shots Wednesday. That's not nearly enough for a player averaging almost 17 points a game. He went 1 of 3 from the field in the first half and spent most of his time on the perimeter without probing the defense.
Krystkowiak said he would talk to Loveridge and break down the film with him. He also said that others needed to make open shots. Wednesday was the second consecutive game that Loveridge was held to 10 points. He mitigated that by doing other things like setting his teammates up for scores in a win over Oregon State last week. And while he did have seven rebounds against Washington, Loveridge said he was mindful of not trying to freelance outside of Krystkowiak's offense.
"I was just trying to not force the issue," Loveridge said. "I didn't think I was passive out there. I was just trying to run the offense and take what the defense gave me. That's what makes the offense work."
But the offense didn't work outside of Delon Wright's career-high 27 points Wednesday. There were others who struggled mightily Brandon Taylor went 2 of 11 for four points. But Loveridge stands out because of his all-conference potential. It's the other side of fame.
Playing on the road has been difficult for Utah. The Utes fell to 1-18 away from the Huntsman Center in Pac-12 play.
Utah's looking to improve on that number, which likely means Loveridge needs to be more assertive offensively.
Utah at Washington State
P Sunday, 5 p.m.
TV • Pac-12