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Takeaways: Runnin' Utes sweep 3-day tourney

Deseret News

Takeaways: Runnin' Utes sweep 3-day tourney

By Tyson Maddy, KSL.com Contributor | Posted - Nov. 23, 2013 at 10:26 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — The Runnin' Utes improved to 5-0 after sweeping the Global Sports Hoops Showcase, winning three games in three nights.

And while Grand Canyon, Lamar and Savannah State aren't exactly big-name powerhouses, there was plenty to take away from Utah's three-day tournament performance.

Bench contributors abound

Multiple bench players stepped up and contributed over the weekend. Freshman guard Parker Van Dyke added a spark off the bench against Grand Canyon, knocking down 4 of 5 from the field for 12 points in just 18 minutes off the bench.

"Parker is a little bit ahead of the curve when it comes to freshmen," said Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak. "He's stepping out of his element. He's leading and communicating defensively. He's really locked in to what we're doing."

Junior guard Princeton Onwas played a major role in the Utes' second and third games of the tournament. Onwas recorded 12 points, 10 rebounds and three assists in the win over Lamar, followed by a 14-point performance against Savannah State.

"We freed Princeton up a little tonight," Krystkowiak said after the Lamar victory. "We wanted him to just go out and play like he likes — with high energy and in that free-wheeling style. He gave us a big boost defensively also because he was guarding their best player.”

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Dallin Bachynski, a junior center, made his first appearance of the season against Grand Canyon after rehabbing an ankle injury. He grabbed 10 boards to go with five points in just 12 minutes off the bench. Bachynski isn't meant to be a major scoring threat, but in each of the three games he made an impact with his size, strength and athleticism down low.

“I think our depth made an impact," Krystkowiak said. "It wasn’t long ago that we didn’t have that luxury, but now we have some depth and we want to take advantage of it."

Loveridge and Wright can put the team on their backs

The Lamar game was close coming out of halftime, with Utah ahead by just six points. Jordan Loveridge and Delon Wright scored the first 13 points for the Utes to open up a 13-point lead, and the game was never close again.

Loveridge again took over in the second half against Savannah State, scoring 16 of his career-high 25 points down the stretch. He knocked down tough shot after tough shot to help keep the Utes ahead.

"My teammates were looking to me to attack more," Loveridge said. "They were just saying, 'These guys can't guard you. Attack, just attack.' So I just did what they needed me to."

"He hit some big shots for us," Krystkowiak said of Loveridge. "Some really big shots when we needed them most."

The Utes can grind one out if they have to

After running away in the second half against both Grand Canyon and Lamar, Utah had to dig in and grind out a low-scoring one against Savannah State. The Tigers kept fighting to the end, keeping the game within reach — right around 10 points for much of the game.

But thanks to a big second half from Loveridge and another solid contribution from Onwas, the Utes were able to hang on and grind out a win, 71-57, in their third game in three nights.

This team is ready for a step up in competition

Utah is 5-0, but it's no secret it hasn't played any good teams. And while their non-conference slate is pretty weak overall, the Utes are about to get a little more competition during the next two weeks.

Ball State (2-2) went down to the wire against undefeated Butler, losing by just one point. Boise State (4-0) will present Utah with its first road test of the season and will be looking to get back at the Utes after taking a beating last year in the Huntsman Center. Fresno State is 3-1, with its only loss coming at Pitt.

This stretch should provide a clearer picture of exactly where this Ute team stands.

"Every game is just going to be harder competition from here, so we're excited for the challenge," Loveridge said.

That matchup with Ball State takes place Wednesday night at 8 p.m. at the Huntsman Center. Fans can once again exchange a can of food for free admission in the Huntsman Center's joint effort with the Utah Food Bank. Tyson Maddy has covered the University of Utah football and men's basketball teams as a contributing writer for KSL.com Sports since 2011. Follow his Utes coverage on twitter @Tyson_Maddy

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