Utah pulls away from Colorado 75-64

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - After shutting down Jordan Loveridge so effectively earlier this season, the last thing Colorado expected was to see the Utah sophomore burn their defense with one clutch basket after another.

The Buffaloes found out the hard way that Loveridge wasn’t about to do a second disappearing act in his team’s Pac-12 home finale.

Loveridge scored 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting to give Utah’s offense a major second-half boost and help the Utes pull away for a 75-64 victory over Colorado. It marked his best offensive production against a Pac-12 opponent since posting 22 points against Arizona State a month ago.

It also marked a stark contrast to what happened in Boulder when Loveridge finished with a season-low four points.

“He had that look in his eye,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “When he was releasing shots, I had a sense that they were going to go in. They were the right kind of shot at the right time and in the right position.”

Delon Wright also finished with 21 points to pace the Utes. Utah (19-9, 8-8 Pac-12) shot 70.8 percent (17-of-24) from the field in the second half to pull away from the Buffaloes.

Josh Scott had 17 points and Xavier Johnson added 10 for Colorado (20-9, 9-7), which lost to Utah for just the second time in the last nine games between the two rivals. The Buffaloes shot just 39.6 percent (21-of-53) from the field and were undone by 11 second-half turnovers.

“The second half, we are a different team,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “For some reason, the last few games, three out of the last four games, in the second half we come out and we just can’t stop anybody.”

After trailing by as many eight late in the first half, Utah shut down Colorado’s offense before halftime. The Utes held the Buffaloes without a field goal over a stretch of 8:14 spanning both halves.

It allowed Utah to finally claim its first lead early in the second half. The Utes scored 17 unanswered points - culminating in a 3-point play by Wright off his own steal - to take a 39-30 lead less than four minutes into the second half.

That was just one of many big second-half plays by Wright that helped Utah gain an edge over Colorado in a hurry. All but two of his points came after halftime.

“I wasn’t aggressive enough in the first half,” Wright said. “I was just trying to let the game come to me, but it wasn’t working. So in the second half, I just tried to be more aggressive.”

Scott broke the ice for Colorado with a jumper, but Utah tacked on a couple of more baskets - punctuated by Loveridge drilling a 3-pointer - to increase its lead to 45-32 with 13:52 remaining.

Colorado missed 10-of-11 shots and Utah forced the Buffaloes to commit eight turnovers during that decisive 23-2 run.

“You should be playing your best basketball at the end of the year,” Loveridge said. “I feel like with this game and our last game, we’re starting to play like we should.”

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