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Loveridge gets 1,000th career point with the Runnin’ Utes

Loveridge gets 1,000th career point with the Runnin Utes

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When Utah forward Jordan Loveridge was playing at West Jordan High School, the Runnin’ Utes weren’t even looking at him.

Despite being one of the best players in the state, Loveridge said Utah “never really recruited me.”

RELATED: RUNNIN’ UTES ARE ‘ENJOYING THE VIEW FROM THE WINNING SIDE’

That all changed when Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak took over in Salt Lake City. According to Loveridge, within hours of getting hired, Krystkowiak was at the now-junior’s high school gym. And it didn’t take long to win over Krystkowiak.

Despite only seeing Loveridge play in an open-gym setting, Coach K saw enough to know he wanted Loveridge to play up on the hill, and offered Loveridge a scholarship before leaving the gym.

“That was just a big thing to see, that he believed in me right off of the bat,” Loveridge said.

Though Loveridge hails from the Beehive State, Krystkowiak said it wasn’t easy to convince the West Jordan-native to stay close to home due to the nature of the program at the time.

“When you look back four years ago, he watched us, we weren’t really good when he was a senior in high school,” Krystkowiak said. “And then he believed in us, and we’ve slowly been making the climb back.”

In addition to the program’s climb back to national prowess, Loveridge has also improved his game while at Utah. Yes, he is averaging fewer points per game this season than any of his previous as a Ute, but Loveridge is having his most efficient year to date.

As of right now, Loveridge is taking the same amount of three-point shots per game as last season. But instead of the 30.6 percentage he was shooting in 2014, Loveridge is making nearly half of his shots from behind the arc with a 49 percent clip. Oh, and he is doing it playing 10.5 minutes less per game.

Potentially the biggest milestone of the season for Loveridge occurred in Utah’s last win over Washington. Just minutes into the game against the Huskies, Loveridge spotted up from deep and hit his first attempt of the game.

While the shot gave Utah the early lead, it also accounted for Loveridge’s 1,000th point of his career as a Ute. It’s been a long road for the West Jordan product and company, but Krystkowiak praised the junior after his accomplishment and even credited him for some of the team’s success over the last few seasons.

“Jordan’s one of the early believers in what we’re trying to do. It wasn’t easy in our recruiting process, but I thought Jordan’s been a pillar — one of those big foundation pieces,” Krystkowiak said. “It’s neat. Any time you can score 1,000 points, I think it says a lot about you.”

Loveridge will look to build upon his career-point total when Utah hits the road to take on UCLA on Thursday night. The last time they faced the Bruins, the Utes won in the Huntsman Center in dominating fashion, 71-39. Despite the margin of victory in that last game, the Runnin’ Utes know they have no room for error as they try to remain in a tie for first atop the conference.

“We know it’s gonna be tough, especially when they are defending their home court,” Loveridge said. “Every game is an important game, especially the road games — you get some wins on the road, you build your confidence on the road so that will be a big thing for us.”

Utah and UCLA are scheduled to tip off at 8 p.m. MST at Pauley Pavilion.

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@GriffDoug

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