Washington stunned by Utah, which earns first Pac-12 road win
With Utah slicing and dicing Washington for layups and dunks, C. J. Wilcox didn't recognize his Huskies. Seriously, was this the same team...
Seattle Times staff reporter
With Utah slicing and dicing Washington for layups and dunks, C.J. Wilcox didn't recognize his Huskies.
Seriously, was this the same team that throttled four straight Pac-12 teams with stifling defense?
The energy and effort Washington displayed the past weeks during its four-game winning streak had been replaced with a lethargic and uninspired defensive performance.
And since the Huskies are incapable of winning a shootout these days, they rely heavily on their defense to pull out victories.
When that fails them, like it did Saturday, they lose like they did against Utah, 74-65. Washington's first conference loss was as shocking to the Huskies as it was to the 8,598 at Alaska Airlines Arena.
"I thought we had that kind of defense behind us," Wilcox said. "Once they get started early, no matter what you do, no matter how many contested shots you have, you know they're going to hit tough shots when the momentum is in their favor."
The Huskies held their previous four opponents to less than 40 percent shooting, but they suffered several defensive breakdowns and Utah burned them repeatedly while shooting 60.4 percent (29 of 48).
"The guys came out of the locker room with a focus (from) start to finish, and really kind of concentrated on winning each possession," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "That was kind of the message, instead of thinking about the game and the result, just get stuck in the moment for every possession.
"I thought we had some great performances by a couple of guys, three guys, that gave us a big lift and then we defended as well as we can defend I think."
Brandon Taylor finished with a game-high 19 points, Jason Washburn had 18 and Jordan Loveridge had 17.
With leading scorers Wilcox (14 points) and Scott Suggs (12) struggling offensively, redshirt freshman Andrew Andrews scored a career-high 17.
However, Washington didn't' have enough firepower to combat Utah's trio.
"Didn't make shots," Suggs said.
The Huskies trailed 12-2 before they knew what had hit them.
While Utah senior center Jason Washburn put on a shooting clinic, Wilcox had difficulty getting a clean look against guards Jarred DuBois, Glen Dean and Utah's 2-3 zone.
He was 0 of 2 and went scoreless in the first half. It was the first time this season he's been shut out before intermission.
Washburn had no trouble finding the bottom of the net. He drained 6 of 7 field goals for 14 points before the break.
The Huskies trailed by as many as 13 points (30-17) in the first half before cutting its deficit to eight (33-25) at halftime.
Said coach Lorenzo Romar: "For whatever reason, we didn't come out playing with that energy and chip on our shoulder that we were playing with in the other four conference games. ... We kind of allowed them to set the tone early because we weren't moving our bodies and being as active as we should."
The Utes built a 15-point lead (56-41) with 8:21 left, when Romar benched starters Abdul Gaddy, Aziz N'Diaye and Desmond Simmons and made one last run with a lineup that included Shawn Kemp Jr., Jernard Jarreau, Andrews, Wilcox and Suggs.
The Huskies pulled to 60-54 with 3:13 remaining, but got no closer.
Utah evened its record at 9-9 and improved to 1-5 in the conference.
"This hurts our team because we understand what just happened," Romar said. "We couldn't quite understand the effort that's required to beat this team."
A win would have been historic for the Huskies, who were seeking a share of first place in the Pac-12 standings and first 5-0 start in the conference since 1984.
The Utes snapped a four-game losing streak and claimed their first ever Pac-12 road win.
The upset puts the brakes on all of the momentum Washington (12-6, 4-1 Pac-12) had gained over the past two weeks. The Huskies fell into a third-place tie with No. 7 Arizona (16-1, 4-1) before starting their toughest stretch of the season.
Over the next five weeks, Washington plays six of its 10 games against ranked teams.
"We know what we're capable of," Wilcox said. "We weren't ourselves tonight.
"We know we can go on the road and get these two wins if we play the right way. It's always tough losing. Especially at home, but we've got to bounce back."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @percyallen.
Attendance: 8,598. Officials: Michael Irving, Ken Ditty, Nate Harris.