I think it is fair for me to speak on the behalf of Huskies fans when I say that I was very surprised that the Dawgs played as well as they did in the first half, let alone the entire game. Before we get into how the Huskies were able to pull away late, let's break down the first half.
Though the close to the first half was disappointing - the Utes finished with an 8-1 run - if you told me before the game the Huskies would only be down five going into the second half, I simply would not have believed you. Nigel Williams-Goss led the way for the Huskies with 12 points on 5-10 from the floor. He had his patented floater working, and was also able to hit a few nice pull-up jump shots. Mike Anderson also had a decent first half, knocking down two threes, though he did have two turnovers.
Jakob Poeltl led the way for the Utes all game, he was a perfect 7-7 from the field in the first half, and was able to do essentially whatever he wanted to in the low post. Shawn Kemp Jr. missed his fourth consecutive game with a strained calf, and Gilles Dierickx was forced to make his second straight start in his absence. The Huskies ran a pretty soft 2-3 zone for the entire of the game that the Utes took advantage of all night, though they did not do a great job of converting.
Delon Wright also did his part, scoring 21 points on 6-11 from the field. However, he was unable to stop NWG down the stretch (more on that in a moment.)
The Huskies were able to stay in the game at the beginning of the second half, mainly because of Anderson, Goss and Andrew Andrews, which was capped off by a 7-0 run that tied the game at 45 with 11 minutes to go. They also kept themselves in the game with the three, knocking down 8 of their 14 attempts from deep.
The Utes looked uncharacteristically sloppy, turning the ball over 13 times, and went over six minutes without scoring a single point between the 15 minute and 9 minute mark.
Jernard Jarreau had his best game since returning from knee surgery on February 22, he knocked three of his four attempts from behind the arc and finished the game with 14 points and 4 rebounds.
It is hard to overstate how well NWG played down the stretch, he was in complete control against Wright, who has gotten the best of Goss in past match-ups. Goss scored 14 of the Huskies final 22 points down the half, and finished with 26 points, which proved to be the difference, as the Huskies pulled away late, and notched their third victory over an AP top 25 team.
For the past two months, the Huskies season has been increasingly hard to watch. We all saw the Huskies rush out to an improbable and exciting 11-0 start and looked poised to return to the Big Dance, just to see the whole thing fall apart, dropping 14 of their final 19 games, which was as equally improbable as their fast start.
But for one day the Huskies gave us a reason to forget all of that.
Man, today was fun. Here's hoping the Huskies can build off this momentum heading into the Pac-12 tournament.