Utes seek turnaround against visiting Highlanders

Nov 21, 2014 - 4:30 PM Salt Lake City, UT (SportsNetwork.com) - The 25th-ranked Utah Utes will try to bounce back as they host the UC Riverside Highlanders for a non-conference tilt at Huntsman Arena.

UC Riverside is coming off of a 70-69 home loss to Sacramento State. The setback dropped coach Dennis Cutt's squad down to a 1-1 overall record. The Highlanders finished the 2013-14 campaign with a 10-21 ledger, including a 5-9 mark in non-conference play.

Larry Krystowiak's Utes dropped a 53-49 decision to the nationally-ranked San Diego State Aztecs on Tuesday. The loss followed a 90-72 rout of Ball State, in which Utah exhibited why it was included in the top 25 to begin the season. The Utes connected on only 32 percent of their field goal tries against the Aztecs and went on a 10 minute scoring drought in the opening half.

This will be the first meeting in history between the Highlanders and Utes on the hardwood.

UC Riverside tried to get off to a 2-0 start for the first time since the 1998-99 season on Monday, but came up short as it allowed Sacramento State's Cody Demps sink a game-winning jumper with 17 seconds left. The Highlanders led by as many as seven points in the second period before the Hornets rallied back to hand them their first setback of the campaign. Big West Player of the Year candidate Taylor Johns led Riverside with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Jaylen Bland chipped in 17 points, while Steven Thornton added 14 points.

Utah was one of the top teams nationally in terms of efficiency last season, making good on 48.8 percent of its field goal attempts. None of the Utes managed to score in double figures in San Diego, as Brandon Taylor paced the team with nine points. Jakob Poelti recorded his second double-digit rebound contest of the young season and became the first Ute to block seven shots since 2010 in the loss. In addition to Taylor, who averages 14 ppg, the Highlanders will have to key on Jordan Loveridge defensively. Loveridge posted 14.7 ppg and seven rpg in 2013-14 as a junior.

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