Utah Utes basketball: Wright puts on a show in Utah's loss at Washington
Elaine Thompson, AP
SEATTLE — Utah guard Delon Wright was pretty much a one-man show in Wednesday’s 59-57 loss at Washington. The junior, who played all 40 minutes, scored 27 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and made three steals in the setback.
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said Wright was tremendous.
“(He) played every minute of the game and offensively, defensively was really solid,” Krystkowiak explained. “... But as you get on the road it’s got to be more than one guy with a great game. You’re going to have to have contributions from some different guys and I thought short of Delon we were pretty deficient in what we were trying to do.”
Despite the strong showing individually, Wright wasn’t pleased with the outcome as Utah (12-3, 1-2) fell to 1-18 in Pac-12 road games since joining the conference in 2011-12.
“I wish we could have got the ‘W,’” he said, adding that a faster start and a couple of more stops would have made a difference.
The Utes overcame an 8-0 deficit to start the game and made things quite competitive in a game featuring six lead changes and four ties. They even had a chance to win it in the closing seconds but a 3-point attempt by Wright missed the mark.
“I think we can overcome a lot of things,” Wright said. “We know that we were missing shots. It wasn’t like they were just blocking our shots and everything. We were just missing our shots so I think we're going to overcome it eventually and hit some shots.”
Wright, who was 10-of-17 from the field while his teammates were a combined 12-of-36, didn’t realize he had finished with a game-high 27 points.
“I was just taking what the defense was giving me,” Wright said. “... I was just trying to score for my team. We couldn’t really get a bucket so I was just trying to score.”
Krystkowiak emphasized what he said before leaving on the trip.
“You’ve got to be solid,” he noted. “You’ve got to put it all together.”
On this night, however, Krystkowiak attributed much of Utah’s offensive struggles to Washington’s defense. He credited the Huskies for being stoked up and ready to go.
Utah missed its first 10 shots from the field and shot just 26.1 percent in the opening half. Krystkowiak said the Utes did a terrible job setting screens early on and compounded the accompanying pressure from the Huskies. Utah didn’t have any assists during the first 20 minutes and had just three by game’s end.
“Their defensive effort tonight was tremendous. They really made it hard for us and we struggled,” Krystkowiak said. “When we got some open looks we missed them and had a hard time earning some open looks. To go the first half without an assist was pretty indicative of what their defense was all about.”
Utah’s effort was also noteworthy at times.
“Our defense kept us in the basketball game and put us in an opportunity where we were competitive,” said Krystkowiak, who noted that the Utes simply have to be better moving forward. Pac-12 teams are scouting well and so they’ll have to battle and be tighter offensively.
Jordan Loveridge, who finished with 10 points, was the only other Utah player besides Wright to score in double-figures. No one else, in fact, had more than seven.
Even so, Utah came oh-so-close to winning in Seattle for the second consecutive year. The loss was the Utes’ third by two points this season — joining narrow shortcomings to Boise State (69-67) and Oregon (70-68 in overtime).
“We’re like six points from being undefeated. So that’s real tough at the end of the day,” Wright said. “But, I mean, losses are going to come so we’ll just learn from it.”
“The obvious answer is it’s not what we’re looking to do,” he said of two-point setbacks. “We’ve got to close out these close games and figure it out. We’re growing, you know, and put these things in our memory banks. And we’ll learn from it and move from there.”
Utah returns to action Sunday at Washington State.
EXTRA STUFF: The Utes were just 1-of-15 from 3-point range ... Former Pleasant Grove High star C.J. Wilcox hit four 3-pointers for Washington and finished with 14 points ... Utah’s three assists were distributed by Loveridge, Wright and Brandon Taylor ... The attendance was 3,424.
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