Every game matters to us. Maybe we aren't picked to go far or anything like that, but we can make some trouble for some other teams — give a team or two a key loss or something like that. —Jason Washburn
SALT LAKE CITY — It's unlikely that anyone savored Utah's 58-57 win over Stanford more than Chris Hines and Jason Washburn. The lone holdovers on the active roster from last season had an extra appreciation for how things turned out as the Utes prevailed in their home finale.
"I think it's big," Hines said after noting the ups and downs that accompanied the arrival of new players and a completely different coaching staff at Utah. "It's just been a whole whirlwind. To end it like this it helped a lot."
The victory snapped an eight-game losing streak by the Utes and upped their record to 6-22 overall and 3-13 in Pac-12 play. Stanford, meanwhile, fell to 19-10 and 9-8.
"Every game matters to us," Washburn said. "Maybe we aren't picked to go far or anything like that, but we can make some trouble for some other teams — give a team or two a key loss or something like that."
Speaking of trouble, Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak noted the the Utes may cause havoc at next month's Pac-12 tournament in Los Angeles.
"I still think there is a little gas left in our tank," Krystkowiak said while referring to past remarks that the Utes will be a tough out at the conference tourney — depending on seeding and how things shake out. "I wouldn't want to play us right now. If we finish 11th or whatever the case might be, I wouldn't want to be the sixth-place team that faces us first because I think we are better than our position."
The Utes, he added, have picked up their production quite a bit in the second half of conference play.
On Saturday, Hines and Washburn produced the biggest numbers. Hines finished with 19 points and seven rebounds, while Washburn added 17 points and six blocks.
"They have been really good and I think they're providing us with some solid leadership," Krystkowiak said. ". . . They're both leading by example and are playing a lot of minutes. They're getting better. They're coachable and not making the same mistakes. It's a pretty good story for those guys.."
Hines and Washburn opted to remain at Utah, along with David Foster and Josh "Jiggy" Watkins, after Jim Boylen was fired. Foster was sidelined for the season with a foot injury and Watkins was later dismissed from the team — leaving Hines and Washburn as the foundation for rebuilding the program.
Saturday's win in the Huntsman Center provided the most significant evidence that progress is being made. The Utes rallied from a 10-point deficit in the first half and prevailed in a close contest by executing down the stretch. Hines hit the game-winning shot on a 3-pointer with 27 seconds remaining.1 comment on this story
"As a team I think we were tired of the 'moral victories' and close losses," Washburn said. "When people tell us we played well and it just a play here and there just kept us out of it."
Washburn's performance earned praise from Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins.
"He's a terrific player. I have been watching him on tape throughout the year," Dawkins said. "He's a quality player. I think he is one of the best players in our conference."
The Utes conclude the regular season Thursday at Oregon State and Saturday at Oregon. They'll open Pac-12 tournament play on Wednesday, March 7 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.