SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Jakob Poeltl has been one of the most efficient players in the country this week and Washington State had the best seat in Salt Lake City to watch the Utah center work on Sunday.
Poeltl scored 25 as Utah faced little resistance in an 88-47 victory over Washington State.
The Utes (19-7, 8-5) remain in striking distance for the Pac-12 regular-season title with the win.
“It’s been something that we work on probably on a daily basis, the post feeds,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “You can have the best post guy on the planet, but if you don’t have somebody to throw him the ball … so, our guys have taken a lot of pride in their ability to do that.
“And Jakob’s obviously taken a lot of pride in his ability to slow down and finish. … It’s pretty obvious that’s where we’d like to start our offense.”
The Cougars (9-16, 1-12) were never competitive after the first five minutes. The Utes went on a 17-3 run that included 14 from Poeltl to take a 21-9 lead. Another 17-5 stretch, highlighted by a pair of 3-pointers from Jordan Loveridge pushed the lead to 40-21 at halftime.
Things didn’t get better for the Cougars after the half and they never found an answer for Poeltl. The 7-footer added seven more points during a 13-0 run that gave Utah a 55-24 lead. Poeltl put an exclamation mark on the spurt with a break-away, one-handed tomahawk dunk.
Poeltl shot 11 for 14 from the field and had 10 rebounds in just 25 minutes. He’s now 22 for 26 from the field in the last two games - both Utah wins. Loveridge finished with 14 and Brekkott Chapman scored a season-high 12.
“We always have confidence when we throw it to Jakob,” Loveridge said. “He’s such a great player inside. It’s always nice when he does his work and seal guys, it just makes your passes a lot easier when he gets angles and things like that.”
Que Johnson scored a WSU-high 13 points as the Cougars shot a season-low 30.6 percent from the field.
“With games like this, you don’t look at tape,” Washington State coach Ernie Kent said. “You just move it aside. I know we’re a better basketball team than what we showed tonight. But, mentally, we had nothing. We were just drained.”
Washington State: The Cougars entered the game ranked No. 189 in the RPI. … The last time Washington State won at Utah was Dec. 14, 1946. … The Cougars have lost 11 consecutive games, including eight by double figures. … Josh Hawkinson entered the game averaging a team-high 16.0 points and 11.1 rebounds. He finished with four points and eight rebounds.
Utah: The Utes scored 24 points in the paint in a first half that Washington State scored 21 total. … The Utes entered the game with the No. 16 RPI in the nation.
The two teams combined for seven turnovers in the first six minutes of the game and had 16 at halftime. The Cougars accounted for 11 of those after entering the game averaging 14.4 turnovers per game. They finished with 20. “It just kind of set the tone for the rest of the game,” Hawkinson said. “Once we got down early, it was pretty hard to come back from that.”
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The Utes found their shooting touch for the second consecutive game. Utah shot a season-high 67.3 percent from the field on Wednesday and 53.2 percent on Sunday. They had shot 54.7 percent from the field with 5:51 remaining when most of the starters sat down.
“We’re trying to play the best basketball at the end of the year that we can,” Loveridge said. “We don’t want to take any steps back. You can take steps back even if you beat a team by a bunch of points.”
The Cougars host Stanford on Thursday.
The Utes travel to face UCLA on Thursday.
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