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It's hard to measure success against a team like Evergreen State. The Geoducks are an NAIA Division II school without a starter over 6-foot-5. They have a roster that couldn't possibly hope to match up with Utah's newfound talent and athleticism. In reality, the matchup was doomed from the start.
With that in mind, maybe Friday's 128-44 final should come as no surprise. Before 7,768 at the Huntsman Center, the Utes established themselves as the superior team and never relented. The starters were on the bench midway through the second half. The walk-ons and freshmen played the final seven minutes, and still Utah couldn't find a way to prevent the lead from expanding.
As a result, Friday night produced one of the most lopsided results in school history.
"I was happy with the way we played," Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "I don't think we took any selfish shots tonight. We had a lot of assists and we also doubled them up on rebounds. So I think this was a good night for us."
The point total is the most in the history of the Huntsman Center. It's the third most in program history and the largest margin of victory since 1955, when Utah defeated Arizona 119-45. In this kind of a contest, a team could acquire bad habits. But Krystkowiak said he was tough on his team, even when the lead swelled to more than 70 points.
He got upset with six minutes remaining when he thought his team jogged back in transition.
Krystkowiak yelled at freshman Ahmad Fields when he allowed his man to score over him on consecutive possessions. He consistently stayed on the players, exhorting them to move the ball and to play well defensively, regardless of the competition.
"I never expected to beat another team by 80 points," junior guard Delon Wright said. "Maybe 30. But not 80."
There were positives. It was a chance for the Utes to play against someone else and to run plays against an actual opponent. And even if the Geoducks offered little resistance, Wright's debut in a Utah uniform was borderline special.
A junior college transfer, Wright scored 17 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, handed out 7 assists and garnered 7 steals, and did it all in 25 minutes. He and sophomore forward Jordan Loveridge were the two best players on the floor. Loveridge scored 24 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
In all, Utah placed seven players in double figures. Everyone played. Everyone scored. There were 26 assists and just five turnovers. The free-throw shooting was much improved from an exhibition win last week over St. Martin's.
That bodes well for future games. Krystkowiak knows there are no Evergreen States remaining on the schedule. He knows his team needs to improve and do so rapidly.
"We're just trying to get better each day," Krystkowiak said. "As we move forward, the price of poker is on the rise."
O Delon Wright (17 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists, 7 steals) flirts with a quadruple-double in his Utah debut.
• Utah records the third-highest point total in program history and its largest margin of victory since 1955.
• Sophomore forward Jordan Loveridge scores 24 points and grabs 13 rebounds.
Utah 128, Evergreen St. 44
EVERGREEN ST. (0-1)
Peters 2-8 1-2 5, M. Taylor 2-3 0-0 4, Hong 1-3 0-0 2, Johnson 0-8 0-0 0, Calhoun 4-15 2-3 11, Holzman 0-0 0-0 0, Rawls 2-8 1-1 5, Faison 2-9 0-0 4, Potter 1-3 1-3 3, Howard 0-2 0-0 0, Phillip 1-4 0-0 2, Awadjie 4-6 0-0 8.
Totals 19-69 5-9 44.
Lenz 3-6 2-2 8, Loveridge 6-8 11-12 24, Taylor 6-9 1-2 16, Tucker 6-11 0-0 13, Wright 7-8 3-4 17, Van Brocklin 0-0 2-2 2, Onwas 2-4 0-1 5, Van Dyke 4-4 3-3 12, Fields 1-4 9-13 11, Eastman 0-0 1-2 1, Ogbe 3-6 3-4 10, Ricketts 1-1 0-2 2, Olsen 3-5 1-1 7.
Totals 42-66 36-48 128.
HalftimeUtah 59-20. 3-Point GoalsEvergreen St. 1-24 (Calhoun 1-10, Faison 0-1, Rawls 0-2, Hong 0-2, Potter 0-2, Peters 0-3, Johnson 0-4), Utah 8-18 (Taylor 3-5, Van Dyke 1-1, Onwas 1-2, Loveridge 1-3, Ogbe 1-3, Tucker 1-4). Fouled OutAwadjie, Phillip. ReboundsEvergreen St. 28 (M. Taylor 7), Utah 55 (Loveridge 13). AssistsEvergreen St. 8 (Faison, Johnson 2), Utah 26 (Wright 7). Total FoulsEvergreen St. 32, Utah 11. A7,768.