Meet The Utah Utes: The Pac-12’s Surprise Team

By John Lloyd
Chris Nicoll- USA TODAY Sports

Going into the 2013-14 college basketball season, not a whole lot of analysts had the Utah Utes doing much in the Pac-12 this season. However, coach Larry Krystkowiak has other priorities.

The Utes were horrible when Krystkowiak — an ex-NBA D-League head coach for the Idaho Stampede — took over the job in 2011. In three years at the helm, he has his team at 11-2 and coming off one of the best performances of the season, a home overtime battle against the Oregon Ducks.

The two losses for the Utes came on the road against the Boise State Broncos and at home against the Ducks. There are many skeptics that are not hanging their hats on the Utes, mostly due to scheduling concerns. However, as of right now, Utah is currently getting shots everywhere on the court. The Utes are first in the country in shooting percentage at 54 percent and third in assists at 19 per game. Getting efficient shots is the easiest way to compete — especially against a team like the Ducks — because it does not put pressure on one guy scoring.

If the Utes have a go-to scorer, it would be sophomore forward Jordan Loveridge. As of right now, he’s averaging 17 points per game. He finished the night with 21 points, 11 of which came in the first half.

Loveridge and company have been overseen because of the last couple of seasons, but the marquee performance against the Ducks has to keep teams like the UCLA Bruins, the Arizona Wildcats, the Colorado Buffaloes and the Stanford Cardinal up at night all season.

Krystkowiak might coach a system, but right now, his system is upsetting the titans of the Pac-12 and could sneak his Utes into the tournament. Look for this team to be right around the bubble this season to get in, especially if it can go to Arizona and beat the Wildcats on Jan. 26.

John Lloyd is a Pac-12 Basketball Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JohnHLloydIII

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