The Runnin’ Utes were back in action Friday night and got another win, this time against Idaho State, 102-72, in the Huntsman Center.
The Utes were in control of the game early on and did not let off, something head coach Larry Krystkowiak is happy to see considering how in recent showings, the team has let their opponents get back into the game.
“Nice to settle in here and get our sea legs back,” Krystkowiak said.
Jakob Poeltl continued to dominate the paint, much like he did in the last game against Temple. He registered another double-double and led the Utes with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Right behind him was Kyle Kuzma, who scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
“We’re not expecting Kuz to score 20 points every night, and we’re not expecting Jakob or Brandon [Taylor],” Krystkowiak said. “The key for us is we need to have three or four guys having a good game simultaneously, and I don’t care which of those guys it is. Somebody needs to give us a spark.”
Kuzma wore the No. 13 instead of the usual 35 because his jersey went missing since competing in Puerto Rico.
“My jersey didn’t show up,” Kuzma said. “Got lost, I don’t know where it went, how it happened. Just went James Harden today I guess.”
While Jordan Loveridge had a quiet night for the Utes with only seven points, he did lead the team with four assists. The team finished 60 percent from the floor and 47 percent from three-point range.
Utah won the tip to start the game, and after a basket from Lorenzo Bonam on its first possession, it seemed like the Utes would run away early. However, the defensive woes Utah has experienced all season long continued for the first five minutes, and Idaho State had the early 13-11 lead behind a couple of three pointers.
After a timeout, Utah got on track to score nine straight points.
“We weren’t as dialed in as we needed to be, and they challenged our guys to play defense,” Krystkowiak said. “They just needed a little spur action.”
The Utes continued to build on their lead from there, making several runs. Then Poeltl stole the ball, took it coast to coast and finished it off with a two-handed slam dunk. Poeltl had his way with the Bengals for the majority of the night, and even when they double-teamed him, he was able to kick the ball out to find an open shooter.
Later in the half, Bonam did exactly what Poeltl did minutes before, stealing the ball and taking it for a dunk. The Utes went on to finish the half on a 14-1 run and lead 57-28 heading into the locker room.
The Utes continued to extend their lead in the second half. Taylor even made a nice alley-oop pass to Kuzma for a dunk, something that got Poeltl excited.
“It’s one of those energy plays,” Poeltl said. “It brings a lot of energy to you, and you get hyped up and you really got to use that momentum.”
Several bench players entered the game because of the large lead and continued to run up the score. Later, Poeltl had a putback dunk to add to his total.
Dakarai Tucker came into the game late, but even then he was able to find his rhythm and quickly scored three three-pointers. Only two players were unable to find the bottom of the net, as every other player for the Utes scored.
Although there weren’t too many downsides, Brekkott Chapman did have to leave the game early in the first half due to an ankle injury.
Next up for the Utes, they take on in-state rival BYU on Wednesday night in the Huntsman Center.