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SALT LAKE CITY — After about a month of rehab and rest, junior forward Jordan Loveridge returned to the court Tuesday night following knee surgery to lead Utah to victory against Carroll College.
Loveridge, who underwent surgery to repair a bone spur under one of his kneecaps during the Thanksgiving break, appeared to be in regular form Tuesday, leading the team with 14 points, three rebounds and two steals in 16 minutes of play.
Loveridge was expected to suit up at the start of conference play Friday, but Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak wanted to give his starting forward a warm-up game before being thrown into the mix against difficult competition.
“There’s no need for him to sit in street clothes (Tuesday) when he could get out there in a somewhat limited minutes situation,” Krystkowiak said following Utah’s 85-49 win Tuesday night.
“I just wanted to get my rhythm back in an actual game setting,” Loveridge said. “Coach didn't want to throw me right in there during conference play.”
I just wanted to get my rhythm back in an actual game setting. Coach didn't want to throw me right in there during conference play.
Loveridge said he’d been dealing with the injury for some time and couldn’t straighten his leg, which restricted some of his motion on the court. In his first game back, Loveridge appears to not have lost his touch and may even be better off, according to Krystkowiak.
“I think he would probably tell you that he feels healthier,” Krystkowiak said. “I think he is a tough kid and I think he has been dragging the leg around a little while and didn’t want to bring too much attention to the situation. But I don’t think his leg was healthy before and this might be considered a setback but it provided him an opportunity to do some rehab.”
Krystkowiak said he was impressed with Loveridge’s desire and dedication in getting back on the court quickly. Throughout the Christmas break, Loveridge spent extra time with the training staff using underwater treadmills and air-resistant treadmills to get his body back in order before conference play began.
“Everybody kind of shut it down for a couple of days before Christmas, but he was a guy that was going at it pretty hard,” Krystkowiak said. “He has spent a heck of a lot of time with our training staff, who’s done a great job. I think his leg is stronger than maybe it’s been in a long time. It might be refreshing for him. I see him getting up and down the floor.”
“It was fun to be back out there, especially after watching all the big games we just played,” Loveridge said. “It’s tough having to sit there and watch, but I’m just glad I could help them out.”
Loveridge did not start in Tuesday’s game against Carroll College, but played a significant amount of minutes in his first game back with the program. It’s unknown at this time if Loveridge will start against USC on Friday or will continue to be eased back into a starting role with limited minutes.