Utah Utes basketball: Utes pick up first Pac-12 road win, hold off Washington
SEATTLE — Utah senior Jason Washburn was trying to soak it all in. He didn’t have a lot to say while walking off the floor at Alaska Airlines Arena. His smile spoke volumes, however, after the Utes picked up their first-ever Pac-12 road win — a 74-65 decision over the Washington Huskies.
“It feels so good, man. Words can’t describe it right now,” Washburn said. “I’m still letting it just come over me, to be real with you.”
Washburn, who set the tone early, scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds as Utah (9-9, 1-5) ended its 12-game skid of Pac-12 road losses against a Washington team that was 12-5 overall and 4-0 in conference play.
“It only took us a year and a half,” he said. “That was a tough team that hadn’t lost and we came out here with the right type of energy, with the right type of mindset, and once again we rose up to a challenging team.”
Freshman Brandon Taylor led all scorers with 19 points and Jordan Loveridge added 17 as Utah shot 60.4 percent from the field and finished with 18 assists. The Utes only had 10 turnovers and made seven steals.
“It was just a gutsy team win,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “We had a whole lot of contributions from different guys. It was what we talked about. You get multiple people playing well and that’s how you win games.”
Krystkowiak was especially pleased with the poise his team showed against one of the conference’s top teams on the road.
“This is a tough league,” he said. “There’s a lot of competition nightly and I’m really proud of our guys.”
“Tonight we stepped up,” he noted. “And it felt good. It felt good for us to be the aggressors."
Utah never trailed while building a 33-25 halftime advantage. The Utes jumped out to a 4-0 lead that eventually swelled to 13 points at 28-15 and 30-17 late in the half. Washburn paced the game-opening run by making his first six shots from the field. He had 14 points and six rebounds in helping Utah get off to a strong start.
Washburn didn’t act alone. Loveridge chipped in nine points and Taylor added eight off the bench. The Utes shot 58.3 percent from the field while holding the Huskies to just 35.5 percent accuracy. Glen Dean was the primary defender on former Pleasant Grove star and Washington scoring leader C.J. Wilcox, who took just two shots in 15 minutes of action in the opening half.
It was the second consecutive game in which Utah held one of the Pac-12’s top point producers scoreless over the first 20 minutes. Before blanking Wilcox, the Utes put the clamps on Washington State’s Brock Motum early in Wednesday’s game.
This time, however, things were different in the second half.
While Motum managed to get on track and score 14 points after the break to help the Cougars prevail, Wilcox’s eventual warming had less impact on the Utes. He didn’t even get on the board until hitting a 3-pointer with 12:59 remaining to make it 44-34. Although Wilcox later connected on another long-range shot to pull the Huskies within single digits, it failed to ignite a momentum shift.
Utah responded to the challenge with an 8-2 burst that included baskets by Cedric Martin, Dean, Washburn and Taylor.
Leading 56-41, the Utes never let the Huskies draw any closer than six points during the final 7:30 as their lengthy road skid came to a halt.
Utah returns to action Thursday at home against California. The Utes host Stanford next Sunday.
EXTRA STUFF: Wilcox finished with 14 points on 4-of-11 shooting. ... The attendance was 8,598. ... Utah’s last conference win on the road was a 62-60 victory over New Mexico in the Mountain West on Feb. 19, 2011.
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