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Pullman, Wash. • More than an hour after a recent practice, Jordan Loveridge and Brandon Taylor were still hoisting shot after shot.
The two seniors worked in a synchronicity that has taken four years to build: They practiced shots from the corners and atop the key, pull-ups inside the arc and just about everywhere else. They rebounded for each other and threw good-natured taunts back and forth as they've done their whole careers as Runnin' Utes.
In Utah's 92-71 win over Washington State, Loveridge and Taylor brought the same breezy feel of their post-practice workouts to the game: Loveridge scored 22, Taylor scored 21 and both made it look elementary.
At 8 for 13, Loveridge made the most shots he has scored since Utah's season opener against Southern Utah. Taylor's 8 for 16 night was the most field goals he's made since last season. The shooting exhibition rinsed away a bad taste both have recently gotten from not shooting as well as they know they can.
"It's been tough when guys have gotten us open shots, and we've missed," Loveridge said. "It was nice to reward the team when we did get an open shot."
Utah's two starting seniors have traditionally been scoring threats: Loveridge is just behind Jerry Chambers for 20th among Utah's all-time scorers, while Taylor is a few good games away from cracking the top 30. Loveridge has averaged double-digit scoring each of his four seasons and Taylor has done it as a sophomore and a junior.
But as the Utes (14-5, 3-3) have been finding their way this season, Loveridge and Taylor haven't done as much heavy lifting: Both are below their career scoring averages this year, and started out so-so in conference play.
Before taking the court against the Cougars, coach Larry Krystkowiak called for the Utes to make the game a turning point from a 2-3 start to conference play.
A 77-59 loss to Oregon last week led some fans on social media and message boards to question Utah's leadership.
But behind closed doors, Krystkowiak said, it was hard to lose confidence in his most experienced guys, the ones who started turning around the program back in 2012. Watching how Loveridge practiced this week, it was easy for his coach to root for him.
"When you talk about a focus in practice and even in shootaround today, Jordan's had one of the best weeks of practice that I've ever seen him have not just offensively, but defensively," Krystkowiak said. "He did a good job, and Brandon was dialed in. It was good."
With both dialed in, Utah is good as well.
Only four times have the duo both scored in double-digits in the same game this year. But in those games, the Utes are 4-0 a reminder of what the team can do when Loveridge and Taylor bring the same intensity they bring to a practice session to a game.
Utah at Washington
P Sunday, 6:30 p.m. MST
TV • ESPNU