Utah beats Evergeen State in 128-44 blowout

JOHN COON (Associated Press)
The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Jordan Loveridge scored 24 points and collected 13 rebounds, while Delon Wright had 17 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, seven steals and three blocks to lead Utah to a 128-44 victory over Evergreen State in their season opener Friday night.

Brandon Taylor chipped in 16 points and six assists and Dakari Tucker added 13 for the Utes (1-0) who led wire to wire. Utah scored its most points ever in the Huntsman Center.

The game counted as an exhibition contest for the Geoducks (0-1) an NAIA team. Kyle Calhoun had 11 points to lead Evergreen State, which withered under Utah's defensive pressure.

The Geoducks turned the ball over 20 times. 17 of those turnovers were Utah steals and led to one easy basket after another for the Utes. Utah scored a total of 35 points off Evergreen State miscues.

Utah came out and put the hammer down in the opening minutes. Taylor drained a pair of 3-pointers and drove for a layup to help the Utes build a 16-2 lead with 14:42 left in the first half.

The Geoducks managed to trim the lead a little, cutting it to 22-11 on a three-point play by Kyle Calhoun. That set the stage for an even bigger scoring outburst for the Utes. Utah answered with a 13-0 run to go up 35-11.

The Utes scored dunks on three straight possessions to punctuate the run. Taylor stole the ball and fed Tucker for the first one. He threw down the ball himself for the second dunk and Renan Lenz finished off the run with another dunk coming out of a timeout.

Those possessions offered a snapshot of the first half in total. Utah dominated around the basket, scoring easy baskets at will. In the first half alone, the Utes had a 24-8 advantage in points in the paint.

Domination wasn't limited to offense. Utah did a good job of forcing turnovers and scoring in transition. Loveridge and Wright had three steals apiece before halftime. The Utes scored 14 points off of nine first-half turnovers for the Geoducks.

Strong play on both ends of the court helped the Utes continue to pull away from Evergreen State after halftime. The Utes opened the second half on a 43-8 run, taking a 102-28 lead on a dunk from reserve forward Princeton Ownas with 8:15 remaining.

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