- Associated Press - Saturday, December 5, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Utah needed 20 minutes of game time before they warmed up for an early afternoon Saturday game against a pesky, upset-minded Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Worth program.

The Utes pushed past a sluggish first half to run away from the Summit League visitors with a 96-79 victory.

“That’s one of those games, when you’re working on the schedule, that’s very dangerous,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “It’s a game, no disrespect, maybe name recognition is not off the charts. … We’ve got to be a lot better defensively.

“Second half, we got some people’s attention. We had some mental breakdowns. That team played a lot harder than us in the first half. … It was pretty easy to challenge our guys that we need to have a little more pride than that.”

Jakob Poeltl scored 21 points as Utah (7-1) outscored IPFW (7-3) 57-43 in the second half.

The Utes weren’t at their best, but the Mastodons just didn’t have the same caliber of athletes to keep up. Utah has won four in a row and Saturday’s win completes a perfect three-game home stand.

There was no answer for Poeltl, who finished with six rebounds, six assists and one block. Jordan Loveridge scored 18 points, shot 7 for 11 from the field and buried four 3-point attempts.

Lorenzo Bonam scored six straight Utah points as the Utes used a 15-3 second-half run to take a 12-point lead that was too much for IPFW to recover from.

Mo Evans carried the Mastodons with a career-high 26 points, including 18 in the first half. Joe Reed added 14 points and five rebounds for IPFW.

“In a lot of games we play, a lot of teams don’t know who we are or where we’re from,” Evans said. “We kind of have that edge to come in and punch them in the mouth real quick and kind of make them get a little dazed.”

The Mastodons were on fire early as the Utes defense took most of the first half to show any energy. IPFW jumped out to an 18-11 lead with a heavy dose of Evans, while shooting 77.8 percent from the field.

The Utes answered with a 16-4 run as the defense started to get stops. Utah couldn’t pull away, though, and Evans hit a triple from straight away to beat the halftime buzzer and cut the Utes lead to 39-36 at the break.

“They go into every game thinking they can win the game,” IPFW coach Jon Coffman said. “That’s your goal at our level. You never want to go in and say, ‘Wow. They got Utah on their jersey.’

“It was a good experience for us, playing against a really well-coached team who stresses you in different situations.”

TIP-INS

IPFW: The program is now 0-5 against Pac-12 teams. … The Mastodons entered with an RPI of 119. … IPFW entered shooting 36.2 percent from behind the arc, but shot just 30.8 percent in the first half. It shot 64.3 percent from 3-point range in the second half.

Utah: Kenneth Ogbe started for the second consecutive game. … The Utes shot 53.3 percent in the first half and allowed the Mastodons to shoot 44.4 percent. … Bonam played just three minutes last game, but played 21 with 15 points and four assists Saturday. … The Utes were 13 for 23 from the free-throw line.

HANGOVER

The Utes had an emotional win over rival BYU on Wednesday in front of a crowd that was raucous throughout. Saturday was a different story. The Utes seemed deflated most of the first half and the crowd was sparse and quiet in comparison. The 36 first-half points were the most Utah had allowed since giving up 46 to Miami in a 90-66 loss Nov. 20. Krystkowiak admitted there was a hangover from the BYU game.

“I don’t think it matters who you play after BYU,” Krystkowiak said. “There’s got to be a certain percentage of your brain that’s still trying to recover from it all.”

Loveridge added, “It’s always going to be higher stakes, higher everything (against BYU). So there’s always going be a little bit more juice when you play BYU. … Maybe we didn’t know how good this team was.”

UP NEXT

IPFW travels to face Indiana on Wednesday.

Utah travels to face Wichita State on Saturday.

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