Utah Utes men's basketball notebook: Runnin' Utes' hard work pays off in big win at Washington
Elaine Thompson, AP
SEATTLE — There were a variety of reasons for Utah’s success Saturday night at Washington. The Utes put a lot of things together in their 74-65 victory over the Huskies.
“I thought the guys came out of the locker room with a focus of start to finish, and really kind of concentrated on winning each possession,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “That was kind of the message, instead of thinking about the game and the result, just get stuck in the moment for every possession.”
The plan worked. Utah never trailed and the score was never tied after the Utes opened the game with a 12-2 run.
“It was a team effort. That was the great thing,” said senior center Jason Washburn. “Everyone did their part, whether it was on the offensive end or the defensive end.”
For Utah, the quick start was more than welcome. The Utes had fallen into a pattern of playing from behind.
“It’s a lot easier to play the game when you’re ahead,” said freshman forward Jordan Loveridge. “Shots are a lot easier to make. It’s a lot easier to play defense. And it just makes the game a lot easier.”
Loveridge added that the win was also the result of a lot of hard work, even after a series of close losses this season.
“This is what happens,” he said.
Washburn noted that finally getting the program’s first Pac-12 road victory is like having a huge monkey off the team's back.
“I’m so glad that Coach K finally got it. He deserves it and this team deserves it,” Washburn said of the historic win. “We worked way too hard not to have this happen for us eventually.”
RISING STAR: Freshman guard Brandon Taylor drew a lot of praise after finishing with a game-high 19 points and six assists. He also made two steals in his 30 minutes of play off the bench.
“He can shoot. He’s creative. And he has a little moxie,” Krytskowiak said. “He’s got a knack for getting into the lane and making some plays.”
Washburn considers Taylor a fine-tuned offensive machine and someone you can’t say enough about right now.
“That kid can shoot and score with the best of them,” Washburn said. “He did a good job of running the ball club tonight, too, and playing some really good defense.”
NO SURPRISE: Washington coach Lorenzo Romar acknowledged that Saturday’s loss to Utah was “very frustrating.” However, he added that it wasn’t something the Huskies didn’t anticipate.
“I don’t care what their record was going into this game,” said Romar, who noted that discussed and watched film of the Utes’ close losses against Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA. “We knew that this team was very capable and they would grind you and play defense.”
Romar went on to say that the Utes “sliced us up.”
DEFENDING WILCOX: Former Pleasant Grove star C.J. Wilcox, who is Washington’s top scorer, had a difficult outing. The junior was scoreless in the first half and wound up making just 4-of-11 shots by game’s end. He finished with 14 points.
“They had a guy sitting in my lap,” Wilcox said. “They weren’t letting me get to places, denying me the ball.”
WORKING IT OUT: Washburn laid out a timetable of sorts following the victory in Seattle. It began with celebrating Saturday night and feeling good about it on Sunday. Then, comes getting back in the gym on Monday and preparing for Thursday’s home game against California.
“It’s time to win some of our fans back and show them what we’re all about,” Washburn said.
Utah’s next three games are at home. After Cal, the Utes play host to Stanford (Sunday) and Colorado (Feb. 2).
Contributing: Dan Rasmussen
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