Our guys hit the shots that they needed to hit and because of that we’re sitting here having a good time. —Utah center Jason Washburn
SALT LAKE CITY — As Jason Washburn walked off the court following Utah’s 60-55 win over Arizona State in the Huntsman Center on Wednesday night, the senior couldn’t stop smiling while celebrating with his teammates and fans.
“I’ve got no words,” Washburn said with a grin as he headed for another happy gathering in the locker room.
Washburn didn’t need to say much at that point. He let his game do most of the talking. The center led the Utes with 26 points (equaling his career high), nine rebounds, two blocks and a pair of steals.
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said he couldn’t say enough about what Washburn did. Even so, the Utes’ come-from-behind victory was hardly a one-man show. There were mass contributions in the win over the Sun Devils.
“It’s really as resilient of a group as I’ve been around,” Krystkowiak said after Utah rallied from a 49-41 deficit over the final 6:45.
The Utes hit 11 free throws down the stretch and had scores from four different players — Washburn, Jordan Loveridge, Jarred DuBois and Brandon Taylor — en route to pulling off the upset.
“We’ve had a great week of practice and hard work paid off tonight,” said Loveridge, who contributed 13 points and six rebounds.
Utah’s defense also made major contributions. Most notably, a charge that DuBois drew on Arizona State guard Jahii Carson with 16.6 seconds remaining helped preserve the win as the Utes improved to 11-13 overall and 3-9 in Pac-12 play. The Sun Devils dropped to 18-7 and 7-5.
“We didn’t finish the game the way we needed to,” said Arizona State coach Herb Sendek.
Utah wrapped things up with a game-ending 19-6 run. The Utes pulled ahead for good on a reverse layup by Washburn with 1:26 to go. Taylor, who hit a 3-pointer before Washburn’s basket, added a pair of free throws with 32 seconds remaining to extend the Utes' lead to 56-53.
It proved to be enough to weather the storm. A dunk by Rusian Pateev was the lone score Arizona State managed the rest of the way. Washburn and DuBois iced the outcome by making two free throws apiece before time expired. The charge call factored in mightily as well.
“Our guys made the plays they needed to make,” Washburn said. “Our guys hit the shots that they needed to hit and because of that we’re sitting here having a good time.”
Utah’s second consecutive home win came in a game featuring just three lead changes and one tie.
Arizona State used a second-half surge — reeling off nine straight points — to climb back into contention and take a 41-37 lead with 10:18 left to play. The Sun Devils added to it before the Utes’ comeback.
“We never gave up,” Washburn said.
Utah got off to a good start, opening the game with a 14-4 run. Washburn paced the outburst with seven points. Jordan Loveridge added five during the seven-minute stretch that also included a basket by Jeremy Olsen.
Although ASU eventually pulled to within three on two occasions, the Utes managed to close the half with a 7-3 spurt to take a 29-22 lead into the break.
Washburn led all scorers with 15 points at halftime. He made 7 of 9 shots from the field as Utah built a commanding 18-6 points-in-the-paint advantage over the first 20 minutes of play.
EXTRA STUFF: The Utes return to action Sunday afternoon at home against ninth-ranked Arizona. ... Wednesday’s attendance was 9,062. ... Taylor’s clutch 3-pointer was his only make in seven shots from the field. ... Carrick Felix led ASU with 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.