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Jordan Loveridge did his damage on the interior, treating Willamette like he treated Utah's high school basketball scene in recent years.
Justin Seymour got out into the open court, finishing easy baskets on the fast break and wowing the 6,242 fans who braved the snow and made it to the Huntsman Center on Friday night. Dakarai Tucker knocked down shots from the perimeter, and impressed with his length and athleticism.
Together, the three freshmen gave Utah fans a glimpse into the future and provided the reality of the present, leading the Utes to a 104-47 win over the Bearcats that was as easy and efficient as the scoreboard indicated.
"I was happy with the way each of them played," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "I think they came out, they played hard, they got some confidence and they made some shots. That's what you want from those guys."
In the season opener for the Utes, the three rookies emerged as arguably the best players in the game. Utah fans knew about Loveridge, the former West Jordan star. He scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, both game-highs.
Seymour, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard out of Georgia, scored 16 points, grabbed six rebounds and handed out three assists, starting in place of senior guard Jarred DuBois. Tucker, a 6-6 small forward, scored 15 points in 19 minutes.
They were the three leading scorers from Utah, showing poise and talent beyond their years.
"I thought we played in the flow of the game, and I was happy that we took what was there and that we didn't hunt shots," Loveridge said. "We all played well, and we played well as a team. I was happy with the way we were able to be successful. It was a good night for us."
Friday's matchup was one Utah was expected to dominate, and the Utes didn't disappoint. Utah scored more than 100 points for the first time since the 1995 season, putting up more than 50 points in each half.
Every player received minutes and every player scored, with Xan Ricketts drawing a standing ovation from the crowd on a layup that trickled through the net in the final minute.
Six Utah players reached double figures. Sophomore center Dallin Bachynski scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in his debut as a Ute. Senior center Jason Washburn scored 12 points, and point guard Glen Dean contributed 10 points.
"We did what we needed to get done out there," Seymour said. "I think this is a pretty close team. We all feel like a family, and it's showing on the court."
The Utes won their season opener for the second time in Krystkowiak's two years at the helm. The margin of victory, though, has proven to be a big difference.
The Utes started 2011 with a 58-55 win over NAIA foe San Diego Christian, a struggle that led to the worst season in the history of the program.
So even if the Bearcats play Division III basketball, the blowout was appreciated.
"This was a good win for us," Krystkowiak said. "It's definitely something to build on. We'll take it, look at the film and see where we can improve."
R Jordan Loveridge scores a game-high 18 points in his collegiate debut
• Former Judge Memorial player Oliver Hughes scores six points for Willamette
Utah 104, Willamette 47
WILLAMETTE (0-1) • Manu 2-8 0-0 4, Babcock-Krenk 2-10 1-3 7, Dart 1-9 4-5 6, McNally 2-10 0-0 4, Bos 1-4 2-2 5, Smith 0-3 2-2 2, Abello 0-3 1-2 1, Hughes 3-6 0-0 6, Hansen 0-4 0-0 0, Walters 2-5 0-0 6, Brown 0-2 0-0 0, Vasquez 0-0 2-2 2, Ripley 2-4 0-0 4. Totals • 15-68 12-16 47.
UTAH (1-0) • Loveridge 8-13 0-0 18, Martin 1-4 0-0 2, Washburn 6-7 0-2 12, Dean 2-4 4-6 10, Seymour 5-10 5-5 16, Lenz 1-2 3-3 5, Taylor 2-2 1-2 6, Mortensen 0-0 3-4 3, Tucker 6-8 1-1 15, Bachynski 3-4 5-9 11, Ricketts 1-1 0-0 2, Olsen 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 37-59 22-32 104.
Halftime • Utah 52-22.
3-Point Goals • Willamette 5-20 (Walters 2-4, Babcock-Krenk 2-6, Bos 1-2, Hughes 0-2, McNally 0-2, Smith 0-2, Manu 0-2), Utah 8-18 (Dean 2-3, Tucker 2-3, Loveridge 2-4, Taylor 1-1, Seymour 1-4, Bachynski 0-1, Martin 0-2). Fouled Out • Hansen. Rebounds • Willamette 29 (Bos, Dart, Ripley 4), Utah 55 (Bachynski, Loveridge 10). Assists • Willamette 9 (Bos 3), Utah 21 (Dean, Loveridge 4). Total Fouls • Willamette 26, Utah 15. A • 6,242.