SALT LAKE CITY -- For almost an entire half, Utah played flat in every sense of the word.
The Utes lacked energy on defense and could not get into a good enough rhythm on offense. Idaho State turned the slow start to its advantage by building a huge lead and bringing the possibility of a major upset to life.
Fortunately for Utah, Jordan Loveridge overcame his own recent penchant for slow starts at just the right time.
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.
"It's not about being perfect or having the perfect energy to start out every game," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "He's learned from it that he's got to get engaged. It was a great night for him. We don't win this game if he doesn't have the kind of performance he had."
Delon Wright added 15 points and Dakarai Tucker chipped in 12 points for the Utes (8-1) who improved to 17-0 all-time in their home arena versus the Bengals.
Tomas Sanchez had 19 points to lead Idaho State (3-3) while Andre Hatchett chipped in 15 points and Chris Hansen added 14. The Bengals lost to a Pac-12 opponent for the second time this season.
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.
"We were just making it easy for them on offense," Loveridge said. "They were getting the shots they wanted. Once we picked up our intensity on the defensive end and stopped turning the ball over, we got back in the game."
Tucker hit a pair of 3-pointers to fuel an 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.
"We got beat a little bit off penetration," Idaho state coach Bill Evans said. "We will only get better from this. We didn't shoot our free throws as well as we have. We forced the baseline and tried to trap them. We didn't hit our spots a couple times. It hurt us. But we will get better from this."
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.
"We haven't seen a team play a zone for a whole game," Loveridge said. "It was good for us to finally against a team that plays all zone. It will help us down the line to know what we did wrong. Even though they're packed in the zone, we still got to cut hard, screen hard and everything like that."
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.