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Even while the Utes stay focused on No. 8-ranked Wichita State, Delon Wright acknowledges he still has a hard time getting past the last ranked team that got away.
In last month's 53-49 loss at San Diego State, Wright was 2-for-13 shooting from the floor and didn't get his first points until the final two minutes of the game. Though he contributed heavily in other categories, the memory of that disappointment on a midday ESPN game, by the way is motivating him this week.
"It definitely does [motivate me], having a bad game and we lost on top of that," he said. "If I have a good game, we have a better chance of winning."
In each of Utah's five wins this year, Wright has scored in double digits. In the last week, a 3-0 stretch for Utah, Wright averaged nearly 20 points and shot 19 for 22 from the field. He's actually shooting 60.8 percent from the season, and nearly 55 percent from distance.
"I'm hitting my shots," he said. "That's giving me more confidence, more will to get to the basket. I actually really feel good about my shot right now."
Loveridge's status up in the air
Utah could be without one of its top players for Wednesday's game with the Shockers.
Junior wing Jordan Loveridge has sat out the past two games with what Larry Krystkowiak has termed "knee discomfort." On Monday, he called Loveridge's status "an unknown."
"We're waiting to see how Jordan feels," he said. "Based on how Jordan feels, we will determine some of that."
Loveridge did not appear to be participating in the media-observed segment of practice, dressed in sweats rather than shorts and a jersey.
Krystkowiak said over the weekend that sitting Loveridge for the last two games of the Thanksgiving tournament was the correct call for the Utes, but he may have been able to play for a bigger game if it was required.
Poeltl on ESPN's Big Board
It may be surprising to hear that there could be an NBA prospect on Utah's roster with a star rising higher than Wright's, but seven-foot freshman Jakob Poeltl is starting to garner serious attention.
The Austrian freshman made his debut on ESPN's 2015 draft board at No. 19, tagged as "this year's draft sleeper." Citing Poeltl's sky-high rebounding rate of 21.9 percent and his skill, Chad Ford said "there's no reason he couldn't be a top 10 pick" by season's end.
Several scouts are coming to Utah to check out how Poeltl handles a big game. Krystkowiak is aware of the hype, and he's been pleased with Poeltl's performance thus far (12 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 3 bpg) but has said recently he's not "surprised" that Poeltl has been successful.