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Utah basketball: True freshman trio leads Runnin' Utes in rout over Willamette

Utah basketball: True freshman trio leads Runnin' Utes in rout over Willamette

By Tyson Maddy, KSL.com Contributor | Posted - Nov. 10, 2012 at 10:41 a.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — True freshman guard Justin Seymour nailed a 3-point shot on the Utes' opening possession Friday night at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Utah's 2012-13 season-opener against Willamette.

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The next five Utah points were scored by true freshman Jordan Loveridge, putting the Utes ahead 8-2.

Just past the first period's halfway point, true freshman Dakarai Tucker got started with a 3-ball of his own to make the score 28-12 in favor of the home team.

Notice the theme going here? The three true freshmen scored a combined 49 points as the Runnin' Utes dominated the Willamette Bearcats, 104-47.

"None of us really hunted shots tonight," Loveridge said. "We let the game come to us. Coach puts us in position to get great shots, and fortunately we knocked them down."

Loveridge scored 18 points with 10 rebounds and four assists — all game highs — registering a double-double in his collegiate debut.

The last Ute to record a double-double in his first college game? One Andrew Bogut, who tallied 15 points and 16 boards against Georgia State in 2003.

Utah guard Justin Seymour (3) brings the ball up in the second half during an NCAA college basketball game with Willamette, Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, in Salt Lake City. Utah defeated Willamette 104-47. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Utah guard Justin Seymour (3) brings the ball up in the second half during an NCAA college basketball game with Willamette, Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, in Salt Lake City. Utah defeated Willamette 104-47. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Seymour started in place of the injured Jarred DuBois and finished with 16 points and six rebounds. Tucker came off the bench to score 15 on 6-of-8 shooting from the field.

"To me, when you watch them on the court, they don't always seem like freshmen," Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "They're guys that can make plays and get out and do their thing. It speaks for the future of our program, to be able to put those guys in. I like the experience factor.

"I'd like to get our program to the point where people go, 'You mean, he's still playing?', where they've seen him for a long period of time. So hopefully these guys can carry the torch for us for awhile."

Sophomore center Dallin Bachynski came off the bench to add 11 points and 10 boards, also netting a double-double in his Utah debut. Bachynski, a Calgary native, transferred from Southern Utah following an LDS mission.

Utah forward Jordan Loveridge (21) shoots as Willamette's Kyle McNally (4) defends in the second half during an NCAA college basketball game on Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, in Salt Lake City. Utah defeated Willamette 104-47. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Utah forward Jordan Loveridge (21) shoots as Willamette's Kyle McNally (4) defends in the second half during an NCAA college basketball game on Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, in Salt Lake City. Utah defeated Willamette 104-47. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

It was the first time two Utes had recorded double-doubles in the same game since March 2005 when Justin Hawkins scored 20 points with 14 rebounds and Bogut managed 10 points and 11 boards against Oklahoma in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Two other Utes scored double figures Friday: senior center Jason Washburn scored 12 with eight rebounds, and junior point guard Glen Dean put up 10 with four assists.

Willamette didn't have any double-figure scorers. Elliot Babcock-Krenk scored seven points to lead the Division III university from Salem, Ore.

Each Ute that played managed to score, including sophomore Xan Ricketts, whose layup with 1:36 remaining resulted in the loudest cheers of the night, making the score 100-47.

It marked the first time Utah scored triple digits since December 1995 when the Utes crushed Cal State Fullerton by the score of 108-58. That roster was led by Andre Miller, Keith Van Horn and Michael Doleac.

"I feel like our identity is changing," Seymour said. "We're starting to become like a family. Just sticking together as a team."

Krystkowiak was pleased with his team's overall performance Friday night, aside from one ugly statistic: 19 turnovers.

"I thought we had pretty good execution," Krystkowiak said. "We got the ball inside. I still get hung up on the turnovers. In the second half, we got a little sloppy with the basketball. We had a goal of having 12 or fewer turnovers. We had seven at half. The same thing happened in our exhibition game (against Simon Fraser). We're trying to see something that's not there. That's the thing we have to get past."

Despite the turnovers, this Ute team is clearly head-and-shoulders above last year's squad, which struggled to beat NAIA program San Diego Christian in last season's opener, sqeaking out the 58-55 win.

After that victory, the Utes jumped around center court celebrating their first of a record-low six victories they would ultimately accumulate over the course of the 2011-12 season.

After this season's opener, the Utah players calmly walked to the locker room, having done what was expected of a Pac-12 program against a Division III school.

What a difference a year makes.

Tyson Maddy has covered University of Utah athletics as a contributing writer for KSL.com Sports since 2011.

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