Jordan Loveridge rebounded the ball, seven in all. Delon Wright also hit the boards. So did Princeton Onwas.
For Utah, it was a team effort, gang-rebounding against Colorado in what turned out to be a 75-64 win on Saturday at the Huntsman Center.
Winning that battle 30-27 was a major reason for the Utes’ 19th victory of the season. Just like it was a major reason for the loss to the Buffaloes in Boulder earlier in the year.
"I was pleased that we did outrebound them," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "In the game at Colorado, we couldn’t rebound against them. We got them to miss, but we surrendered 20 second-chance points. That really hurt us."
Since that game, Krystkowiak has stressed rebounding in practice. The payoff came Saturday against the Buffaloes as the Utes kept them off the glass. Colorado scored just five second-chance points. Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson combined for double-doubles in the first meeting between the two teams. The two combined for 11 rebounds Saturday.
"We just tried to stay solid and box out," Loveridge said. "We knew how important second-chance points were to them, so we needed to make sure that didn’t happen. I thought we did a pretty good job of it."
With Saturday’s win, Utah now has four wins over RPI top-50 opponents and two over top-25 foes.
With a normal nonconference schedule, that would be almost enough for the Utes to garner an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. But because Utah’s nonconference strength of schedule is in the 300s, the Utes will have to at least win one next week against California or Stanford. To have a better chance at a tournament bid, they’ll likely have to sweep Cal and Stanford and keep winning games in the Pac-12 Tournament that begins March 12.
Defending the stars
Utah held Askia Booker to 4 points on 1-of-8 shooting. Xavier Johnson scored 10 points and turned the ball over four times in 24 minutes.
"I thought Brandon Taylor did a great job on Booker," Krystkowiak said. "I thought we keyed on him and we knew where he was at all times. We challenged a lot of his shots as well."
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