Utah can only win at home, that much has been proven. When including the non-conference schedule, the Utes are 15-1 at home with the only loss coming to Oregon back before the Ducks forgot that they were actually good at basketball and lost lots of games. The Utes have 15 wins total. On the road, 0-6
Utah was at home facing the Huskies this time, and the ever-inconsistent UW team went through a stretch of almost six minutes without points. It ultimately led to the undoing of the Huskies, and Utah ended up the victor over UW 78-69.
The game started sloppily. In the first half the Utes had 10 turnovers (their average is 11 for the season) while the Huskies struggled to 36 percent from the field.
The most efficient shooter on the entire court for either team today was Desmond Simmons. Yes, you read that correctly. Simmons scored the first four points for the Huskies, and finished with 14 points on 7-8 shooting. That is the best mark of the season for Simmons and it tied his career-high. It still wasn't enough.
It was not enough because Andrew Andrews did something that a shooter should almost never do. According to Gregg Bell, Director of Writing at UW, Andrews has altered his shooting mechanics in-season. When a player alters his jumper, it takes a while for the shot to start falling again because of muscle memory. If a shot is undergoing any major changes, it usually takes a month or longer before threes are even an option. Stephen Curry's father Dell made his son change his shot while he was in high school (it worked out for him). Curry said that he was really bad for about a month and a half.
Andrews' shot looks fine. It didn't look particularly ugly before. It wasn't slow before, it isn't slow now. It looks a little different, but I don't want to get into specifics because I can't look closely at a before and after. Don't change your shot mid-season. Don't do it. Just don't. It messes with rhythm, and muscle memory will screw with everything. Above all else, it makes the player think about his shot. A shooter should not think about the shot, ever.
The game was a back-and-forth affair for most of the night. Until there were 11 minutes left in the game, the teams would match basket-for-basket. When Utah went on a scoring tear, the Huskies would be scoring at a fast clip as well. When Utah was turning the ball over, the Huskies would be missing shots. Things changed in a hurry.
Nigel Williams-Goss made his trademark floater with 11:25 left to put UW in the lead 51-49. Perris Blackwell bullied his way to a layup with 6:37 left in the game, and UW was trailing 62-53. Between those two baskets, the Huskies went 0-6 with five turnovers. Eleven straight possessions without any points at all. After Andrews scored (!) on a fastbreak layup, Williams-Goss did his best to bring his Huskies back, and brought UW within four with a three from the right corner followed by an old-fashioned three-point play, but it wasn't enough.
In the first half, most of the offensive sets involved C.J. Wilcox running around a bunch of baseline screens until Andrews or Williams-Goss could get him the ball in the corner. The only problem with that was there was almost no other action going on in the play, and eventually one of the two point guards was going to have to attempt to make a play for himself. The Huskies finished the first half shooting 36.4 percent.
Wilcox, to his credit, had an efficient game, as he is known to do. He was 6-12 from the field, 4-6 from deep and 4-4 from the free throw line for a tidy 20 points. I know I wrote an entire article about this, but he is really under-appreciated. He passed Todd MaCulloch for fifth in career scoring tonight. He also filled out the statsheet with 4 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal and a block.
- Defense continues to be an issue for the Huskies. The Utes finished with 17 turnovers, which is really high for them. A problem is that most of those were unforced errors. It wasn't pressure from the Huskies that caused all of those turnovers. All the while, the Utes shot 60 percent from the field.
Getting inside was a priority for Utah, and the team would frequently pass up semi-open threes in an attempt to get a better look inside, and it worked.