SALT LAKE CITY -- Jordan Loveridge had 27 points on 10-of-14 shooting -- which included several key baskets down the stretch -- to help Utah hold off Idaho State for a 74-66 victory on Tuesday night.
Trailing by nine early in the second half, Utah roared back to life by clamping down on defense. The Utes allowed Idaho State to shoot just 34.5 percent (10-of-29) from the field after halftime. It helped open things up on the other end of the floor.
Tucker hit a pair of 3-pointers to fuel a 18-5 run that put Utah in front at 52-48. When Dallin Bachynski capped the run with a dunk with 9:38 left, Utah looked to be in control.
Idaho State got within a point twice -- the final time on a 3-point play from Chris Hansen to make it 57-56 in favor of Utah -- but the Utes answered with timely baskets down the stretch.
Utah took its largest lead, 70-61, on Loveridge's layup with 2:48 left. The sophomore then made a 3-pointer with 52 seconds remaining to secure the victory after the Bengals clawed back within four.
Utah played without much energy on defense in the first half and it opened the door for Idaho State to set a favorable tempo and take control of the game.
The Bengals shot 51.9 percent (14-of-27) from the field and 55.6 percent (5-of-9) from distance before halftime. Idaho State also had a 15-11 edge in rebounds and a 9-4 advantage in points off turnovers.
Utah struggled to hold onto the ball against the Bengal defense. The Utes turned it over eight times in the first half -- with six coming as a direct result of Idaho State steals. The Bengals entered the game leading the Big Sky in steals with 11.4 per game.
The Bengals scored the game's first six points, culminating in a jumper from Jeffrey Solarin. Utah responded to the initial run. The Utes caught and passed Idaho State on back-to-back layups from Loveridge and Wright to take a 15-13 lead with 10:37 left in the first half.
Utah's lead did not last long. Scotty Tyler drained a 3-pointer a minute later to help Idaho State rip off a 22-5 run to take control. Hansen capped the lengthy spurt with another 3-pointer to give the Bengals a 35-20 lead with 3:27 remaining before halftime.
Utah closed the gap a bit before halftime when Loveridge and Brandon Taylor hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cut Idaho State's lead to 37-28 with 1:09 left in the half.
The Utes drew within five, 37-32, after Loveridge made another 3-pointer early in the second half. Idaho State boosted its lead back to nine at 43-34 after Hatchett and Solarin each chipped in a basket and free throw to temporarily contain Utah.