The University of Utah men's basketball squad rallied late, but fell short against Washington, losing 57-53. Let's take a look at the gameday grades for the Runnin' Utes:
Back court: Senior Josh Watkins led the team at the halfway point with six points and led all scorers with 18 points on the day. He had a key stretch where he scored five straight points after Washington had taken its largest lead, 41-31, early in the second half. Junior Cedric Martin hit a big 3-point shot to tie the game at 24 late in the first half when it seemed like the Huskies were about to rally. He hit another key 3-pointer with 4:03 remaining in the contest, cutting Washington's lead to four, and finished the game with eight points. Martin hit one more big one with 8.9 seconds remaining to cut UW's lead to two. Watkins was able to get to the basket often, but UW clamped down its defense late. Junior Chris Hines struggled from the field, hitting just 2-of-11 for five points. Back court grade: B
Front court: Junior Dijon Farr had a big block early in the game to stop a Husky fast break but got into foul trouble early, picking up two quick fouls in two seconds just before the 12-minute mark in the first half. He finished the game with just four points but grabbed eight boards. Junior Jason Washburn struggled from the field early, hitting just 1-of-5 in the first half for two points. He finished the game with six points on 3-of-8 shooting. He went to the locker room with a first half injury but returned shortly thereafter. Washburn had some trouble guarding Washington's 7-footer, Aziz N'Diaye. N'Diaye had his way in the paint at times, scoring nine points. Front court grade: C
Bench: Sophomore Javon Dawson replaced Farr for the last 12 minutes of the first half, providing a strong inside defensive presence along with grabbing five first half boards. Freshman Blake Wilkinson played five first half minutes, registering one blocked shot. Freshman Anthony Odunsi registered 34 seconds in the second half. Freshman Kareem Storey came in and provided his usual energy off the bench, scoring four points. Bench grade: B-
Coaching: Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak kept an eight-man rotation, adding one player to the seven-man rotation he used against Washington State. First half foul trouble amongst the big players resulted in playing time for Wilkinson. Krystkowiak had to make sure Farr didn't remain in foul trouble, as his defensive presence, athleticism, and versatility make him a key X-factor for the Utes. Utah's defense has improved considerably, and the offense is getting better with time and a tighter rotation. Coaching grade: B+
Overall performance: The Utes did a solid job of containing a fast-paced, high-scoring Washington offense in the first half, holding them to just 29 points on 32.3 percent from the floor. Utah held Washington to 57 points in the game, its lowest point total of the season. For the majority of the game, Utah was able to slow down the pace and play its style of basketball, and its solid defense forced Washington into several jump shots, which weren't falling early but began to hit in the second half. UW moved the ball well late and executed down the stretch, holding off Utah's late rally. Utah put forth a solid effort, despite falling short in the end. Overall grade: B+
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