We played with a lot of energy. I think our guys were charged up for the most part. When you play in the Pac-12 Conference, you have to bring energy. —Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak
SALT LAKE CITY — In rebounding from a four-game losing streak with a 70-62 victory over Washington Thursday night, the Utah basketball team did something it hasn’t done very well lately — rebound the basketball.
The Utes had been out-boarded by more than seven rebounds per game in Pac-12 play and came into the game as one of the worst offensive rebounding teams in the nation, ranking 337th out of 350 in total offensive rebounds.
But the Utes hit the boards early and often, finishing with a 44-38 margin over the Huskies and finishing with 18 offensive boards, 11 more than their season average. Afterward, Ute coach Larry Krystkowiak called offensive rebounding the “difference in the game.”
“We had a number of guys who were going and getting second ones,” said Krystkowiak. “We played with a lot of energy. I think our guys were charged up for the most part. When you play in the Pac-12 Conference, you have to bring energy.”
Both Donnie Tillman and David Collette each had four offensive boards, while Tyler Rawson and Jayce Johnson had three apiece. There were no bigger offensive boards than the two by Tillman with the Utes clinging to a four-point lead with under 90 seconds to play.
After Justin Bibbins missed a long 3-pointer with 1:32 left, Tillman battled and grabbed the rebound. The Utes took it back out and when Bibbins missed another jumper with 1:10 left, Tillman came up with the loose ball again and was fouled. His two free throws gave the Utes some breathing room at 66-60.
“Coach said we needed more effort,” said Tillman. “He was telling us, ‘go crash and tip it back out and put it back in.'”
When asked about the offensive rebounding, Collette added, “Just playing harder ... we‘ve had a lack of energy and effort and we came out playing like we should tonight.”
While Tillman and Johnson each had eight total rebounds, the top rebounder for Utah Thursday was the 5-foot-8 Bibbins, who finished with 10 rebounds.
“All our big guys did a great job of boxing out and we told him, ‘you’re welcome,'” said Collette with a smile. “That’s what need, though. We can’t do it all, all the time. He’s doing a great job of recognizing and coming in and helping us out.”
UTE NOTES: Utah will play Washington State Sunday night in a 6 p.m. game before going on the road for games at Arizona State Thursday and Arizona Saturday . . . The Utes will play at Washington in Seattle on Feb. 15 . . . Both teams struggled with their shooting as Utah shot 38.5 percent for the game, compared to Washington’s 37.5 percent. From 3-point range, the Utes were just 7 of 27, while the Huskies were just 2 of 18 . . . Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell was on hand for the game and received a big ovation when his face was flashed on the big screen . . . Utah’s Collette was assessed a technical foul early in the second half, but Matisse Thybulle missed both free throws . . . The Huskies made just 10 of 18 free throws on the night . . . Utah is now 9-3 over Washington since joining Pac-12 in 2012 and 14-9 all time against the Huskies.