Utah basketball: Utes fall short in late-night tilt against the Washington Huskies

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 8 2014 11:15 p.m. MST

Washington's C.J. Wilcox (23) knocks the ball away from Utah's Brandon Taylor during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Elaine Thompson, AP

SEATTLE — Hours before Wednesday’s late-night 59-57 loss at Washington, the Utah Utes took the court at Alaska Airlines Arena for a shootaround.

It was their first trip back to the facility since Jan. 19, 2013, when they picked up their first and only Pac-12 road win. They shot 60.4 percent from the field in a 74-65 victory over the Huskies.

Brandon Taylor and Jordan Loveridge were the top returning contributors — netting 19 and 17 points, respectively, in the upset.

Coming back to Seattle, Taylor noted, felt good.

“But that’s a game that happened a year ago,” he said. “So I’ve just got to stay consistent, bring in the same attitude and be more aggressive, be more assertive, be more of an impact player.”

Taylor, who had a career-high 23 points in last Saturday’s 80-69 win over Oregon State, wasn’t much for reminiscing about Utah’s return to Washington — noting that both teams are improved from a year ago.

“It’s the same arena but two different teams going at it,” Loveridge added.

Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak also dismissed the significance of last year’s win on Washington’s floor.

“That was in the past and this is definitely about the present for us,” he said. “It was a good game for us, but you have you have a pretty short memory.”

The slate is kind of clean, Krystkowiak continued, as he praised the confidence of his team. At 12-3 overall (1-2 in Pac-12), Utah is off to its best start since 1997-98.

In last year’s game in Seattle, Krystkowiak said that the offense really saved the Utes’ bacon. They hit some difficult shots that were a little demoralizing to the Huskies and took a little steam out of their attack.

Defense, especially in transition, is another variable that Krystkowiak considered critical to success at Washington. Before Utah’s Pac-12 road opener, he emphasized the importance of tightening things up and not having a glaring deficiency.

“We’ll play hard. We’ll play smart,” Taylor said. “We’ll play our game and hopefully come out victorious.”

Unfortunately for the Utes, it didn’t start off well. The Pac-12 leaders in field goal percentage (53.2 percent) missed their first 10 shots from the field against the Huskies and fell into an 8-0 deficit.

Loveridge and Dallin Bachynski eventually put Utah on the board with free throws, but the initial shot from the field didn’t come until Delon Wright made a layup with 12:33 remaining in the first half.

It came in the midst of a 9-0 burst that put the Utes ahead. The Huskies, though, responded with a run of their own and went on to hold a 26-21 advantage at halftime.

Utah, however, quickly climbed back into contention. The Utes opened the second half with eight straight points to take a 29-26 lead. They later rallied from five points down to regain a 43-41 edge on a basket by Loveridge with exactly nine minutes to go.

Just 16 seconds later, Washington pulled back in front when Andrew Andrews converted a three-point play. It sparked a 7-0 burst by the Huskies that put them ahead for good.

The Utes did make things dramatic, however, down the stretch. They pulled to within 50-48 at one point and then 59-57 with 15 seconds remaining on a 3-pointer by Wright.

The junior, who finished with a game-high 27 points, attempted a game-winner but it missed the mark.

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