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He got a round of applause just for checking in the game.
Jordan Loveridge only made the Huntsman Center crowd cheer louder as he hit his first 3-pointer 28 seconds later. Utah's junior forward had been missed.
Loveridge paced the Utes (10-2) with 14 points in an 85-49 win over Carroll College on Tuesday night, the team's last game before Pac-12 play begins.
It wasn't especially crisp late: Utah let 18 turnovers get away from them and outscored the overmatched-but-spunky Fighting Saints by only five points in the second half. But it was still dominating, as one would expect the No. 10 team in the country to perform against an NAIA program at home.
Loveridge's return helped smooth out some wrinkles.
"It was fun to be back out there, especially after watching the big games we just played," he said. "It was tough to sit there and watch. But I'm glad we got some good wins. I'm just glad to be back and helping them out."
Loveridge didn't start and only played 16 minutes, but he made the most of them. He was 5 for 6 on the night, including three 3-pointers, while chipping in three rebounds and an assist. His return adds a versatile scorer to Utah's arsenal as they set out on what Larry Krystkowiak termed the next part of the season.
It was the first time Loveridge had played since Nov. 26, when he left a win over Texas-Pan American early with "knee discomfort." Examinations revealed a bone spur that prevented Loveridge from fully straightening his right leg and firing his quad.
The problem may have bothered him for a while before it was discovered, Krystkowiak said, but Loveridge didn't draw attention to it. After a minor surgical procedure and weeks of working on a water treadmill and getting up shots in the gym, Loveridge has more range of motion in his leg than he did at the start of the year.
"He's getting up and down the floor in my opinion, and I think he'd tell you that he feels healthier," Krystkowiak said. "I think his leg is maybe stronger than maybe it's been in a long time."
Utah had a relatively strong evening itself, shooting 65 percent from the field, out-rebounding Carroll by 18 and racking up huge advantages in the paint, scoring off turnovers and on fast breaks. Of the 13 Utes that played, 12 scored at least one field goal.
The result itself was sealed soon after the game began. Utah hit its first seven shots from the field for a 16-2 lead in less than five minutes.
The start set the tone for a cruise control first half in which Utah shot 71 percent from the floor for a 31-point lead by the intermission. Only the occasional punctuation of a memorable play namely Delon Wright's no-look backward pass to Kyle Kuzma for a one-handed dunk gave the game much intrigue.
Utah begins Pac-12 play on Friday at home with USC and UCLA. Utah's only losses have come to ranked opponents, and Krystkowiak said he's mostly pleased with his team's non-conference resume.
"You have to put yourself in perspective," he said. "When we scheduled this, we didn't know we could be 7-5 fighting for our lives. At the end of the day, the reason we tackled that schedule is because it prepared us for league."
P Utes shoot 64.7 percent, including 8 for 16 from 3-point range
• Jordan Loveridge leads with 14 points in his return from injury
• Brekkott Chapman scores 11, Chris Reyes adds 10.