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Film Study: The 25 Straight Possessions Utah Went Field Goal-less against Washington

Defense is fun. Defense wins championship. Come revel in the defense. So much defense.

NCAA Basketball: Utah at Washington Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah UtesRiley Battin made a basket with 4:38 remaining in the first half to put Utah up by a score of 25-22. The next time they would make a field goal was with 8:50 remaining in the second half. That was 25 possessions of futility. And I know that you also want to relive every glorious one of them. Strap in because it’s going to take as long to read all of this as Utah felt like this stretch took in real time. Approximately 6 years. If you’re reading this on mobile...maybe switch to an actual computer...or at least turn on your wi-fi.

Possession #1- Missed 3-pointer by Both Gach, 03:55 left in 1st half

Utah spends the first 15 seconds of the shot clock passing/dribbling it around the perimeter without a real opportunity at an open look. Washington is leaving the man in the far corner open and shifting the zone to essentially double team whoever has the ball and ensure that there’s not an open look available. Both Gach realizes that there’s no chance for a good look here and so attempts a 3-pointer about 4 feet behind the arc and then tries to flop drawing the foul on David Crisp. It’s a wild shot that results in a long rebound secured by Utah’s Parker Van Dyke.

(Utah got multiple offensive rebounds so this clip is for possessions 1-3)

Possession #2- Missed 3-pointer by Parker Van Dyke, 03:50 left in 1st half

Van Dyke dribbles the ball out but because Gach’s wild shot never hit the rim the shot clock never reset and was at 7 seconds when he gets the rebound. He realizes it in time though and immediately turns to fire a 3-pointer with Naz Carter’s hand in his face with 3 seconds left. The shot hits both sides of the rim then bounces out about 8 feet where Utah’s Riley Battin is able to back tap it to Both Gach for another offensive rebound.

Possession #3- Jayce Johnson fouled, misses both free throws, 03:40 left in 1st half

Because of the long rebound, when Gach gets the ball he has 3 Huskies moving towards him and Dominic Green as the only defender under the basket. He correctly realizes that because their momentum is carrying them in the wrong direction that the correct move is to drive to the hoop. Green leaves Jayce Johnson to contest a possible layup attempt but he bounce passes to Johnson who is now wide open under the cup. Instead of going straight up, Johnson dribbles and spins directly into Noah Dickerson who has rotated to recover. Johnson is able to shake Dickerson but Green is still in the area and fouls Johnson from behind going for the block. He misses both free throws badly.

Possession #4- Missed 2-pointer by Jayce Johnson 03:20, left in 1st half

Utah takes their time after a Dominic Green missed 3 allowing the UW zone to get set. Riley Battin is able to find a gap in the zone and throws a nice bounce pass to Jayce Johnson who is posting up Hameir Wright one-on-one. Johnson dribbles once then spins to his left to try to scoop in an up and under layup on the right side of the cup. Hameir Wright glides with him though and gets his 7’3 wingspan up and contest the shot. It’s not clear if Wright got a piece of it but he definitely altered it and is able to immediately rip down the defensive rebound.

Possession #5- Missed 3-pointer by Both Gach, 02:49 left in 1st half

Naz Carter makes both free throws allowing the UW defense to fully set as Thybulle enters the game for him. Utah is able to throw a lob to Parker Van Dyke in the corner barely over the outstretched arms of Dominic Green. Green frantically tries to recover but Van Dyke decides there isn’t enough space to get a shot off and drives past Green instead towards the free throw line. Matisse converges to contest but that leaves Both Gach wide open about 5 feet behind the 3-point arc in the middle of the court. He sets his feet and is able to get off a decently clean look with Thybulle rapidly closing out to contest. The shot rims out and Dominic Green is able to secure the long rebound.

Possession #6- Missed 2-pointer by Donnie Tillman, 01:40 left in 1st half

Jaylen Nowell makes a layup allowing the UW zone to get set. Utah windshield wipers it around the perimeter for the first 13 seconds before getting it to Donnie Tillman at the free throw line who is immediately double teamed by Dominic Green and Matisse Thybulle. However, he executes a great bounce pass to Novak Topalovic five feet to the left of the rim who has an opening to rise and try to dunk it over Hameir Wright if he goes up instantly. Instead he draws Wright and Nowell to him before a nice behind the back shovel pass to a cutting Donnie Tillman who has an open layup. Hameir Wright gets an arm up to try to contest the shot but it just is a little too hard and rolls off the front into the arms of Jaylen Nowell.

Possession #7- Missed 3-pointer by Charles Jones, 01:23 left in 1st half

Utah chooses not to run off a missed shot and saunters down court. Tillman is able to catch an entry pass at the high post pretty quickly and this time has no one on him. He takes one dribble then is able to pass it to Charles Jones Jr. who is open in the left corner. Matisse Thybulle quickly rotates to prevent a corner 3 and Jones passes it to Parker Van Dyke who is now open behind the 3-point arc on the left wing. David Crisp tries a wild closeout and jumps behind and past Van Dyke who pump fakes. Matisse leaves Jones for Van Dyke and so Van Dyke gets it to Jones in the corner for a wide open 3-pointer. The shot hits the back iron though and Dominic Green out jumps Utah’s 7-footer to tip himself the long rebound and end the possession.

Possession #8- Both Gach fouled, makes both free throws, 00:58 left in 1st half

Tillman gets a nice pass at the free throw line over the top of David Crisp and turns to face the basket. He does the exact same thing as last possession and dribbles forward once before passing it to Jones in the left corner. And Jones once again passes it to the middle of the floor once the defense is moving his direction this time to Both Gach. He decides to drive and Matisse Thybulle reaches in going for the steal but catches Gach on the arm instead. Gach goes to the line and knocks down both free throws to end Utah’s first big scoreless streak at almost 3 and a half minutes.

Possession #9- Missed 3-pointer by Both Gach, 00:11 left in 1st half

Coach Hop calls a timeout after a Nowell made floater to prepare his defense for what should be the final defensive possession of the half with 37 seconds left. Utah puts all 5 of their players spread out around the 3-point arc to try to stretch the UW zone thin. Jaylen Nowell is unable to prevent a bounce pass to the corner to Charles Jones and since Nowell is out of position, Hameir Wright runs out to try to contest. Jones decides that’s enough of a deterrence to not put up the shot but takes too long to pass and Nowell is able to recover and force him to dribble back out while Hameir Wright returns to his spot under the hoop. Jones ends up driving but is hounded by Matisse Thybulle. This time though Jones finds Gach wide open in the same left corner. He takes a completely uncontested 3-pointer which bounces out and Hameir Wright gets the rebound.


This is your time to go use the restroom. Maybe hit the concession stand and buy some popcorn. Up to you. God I love popcorn. But not movie popcorn. The home air popped kind with real melted butter. That’s the stuff.

Possession #10- Missed 2-pointer by Both Gach, 19:51 left in 2nd half

Sedrick Barefield is back in the game for Utah and he pulls off a nifty mostly-no-look bounce pass to Both Gach who is open a foot in front of the free throw line on the left elbow. He doesn’t hesitate which allows him to get the shot off before Matisse Thybulle can close the gap and block the shot from behind. But he leaves it just short and rolls off the rim into the arms of Jayce Johnson. However, he’s surrounded by 3 Huskies and they’re able to knock the ball out of his hands and Hameir Wright is able to save the rebound before it goes out of bounds.

Possession #11- Turnover by Sedrick Barefield, 19:14 left in 2nd half

Gach and Barefield pass the ball along the perimeter of the zone for 15 seconds without finding an opening. Barefield gets impatient and attempts to lob the ball over Matisse Thybulle to Riley Battin who is in the high post. That works about as well as you’d expect and Thybulle’s long arms pop the ball straight up in the air and he catches it and dishes to Jaylen Nowell to start a potential fast break opportunity.

Possession #12- Missed 2-pointer by Riley Battin, 18:23 left in 2nd half

For the first time in this stretch Utah actually pushes the ball a little bit after a Washington miss and Sedrick Barefield is able to dribble past Matisse Thybulle before the zone is fully set. However, there’s nowhere for him to go and Thybulle catches up to almost bat away from behind a pass intended for Jayce Johnson under the basket. Johnson wasn’t ready for it but luckily for Utah Hameir Wright tipped it as it sailed out of bounds so Utah maintained possession. Utah inbounded by throwing a lob into the other half of the court to Barefield. Gach got the ball and lobbed it over David Crisp’s head to Riley Battin who was open on the right elbow. He decides to turn and shoot the midrange jumper with Hameir Wright leaping out at him. The shot misses and Noah Dickerson boxes out Johnson for the rebound.

Possession #13- Missed 2-pointer by Jayce Johnson, 17:44 left in 2nd half

Noah Dickerson made a layup but Utah is able to leak out and Jayce Johnson gets behind the defense off the make. But as he goes up for what he thinks is going to be an easy dunk, Hameir Wright comes out of nowhere and pins the ball against the rim from behind for the block. There’s a scramble for the ball on the ground but it ends up a held ball with possession to Washington.

Possession #14- Missed 2-pointer by Sedrick Barefield, 17:00 left in 2nd half

Riley Battin sets up a screen at the middle of the 3-pt arc and David Crisp expects Sedrick Barefield to use it so he starts to lean to prepare himself to get around it. But as soon as he does, Barefield takes off to his right and is able to drive past Crisp. However, he finds himself trapped on the baseline with Hameir Wright’s outstretched arms in front of him and so he shoots a fade away 8-foot baseline jumper that bounces off the rim, then Jayce Johnson’s hands, then to Matisse Thybulle to end the possession.

Possession #15- Missed 2-pointer by Novak Topalovic, 16:24 left in 2nd half

Utah spends a full 22 seconds working the ball around the perimeter searching for an opening before they make any kind of pass that has a chance to result in a shot. Novak Topalovic gets a bounce pass on the left baseline and tries backing down Hameir Wright. He pulls off a nice spin move to clear space but is fading towards the end line and his floater is too strong and ends up as an air ball which Utah tries to spike off Jaylen Nowell and misses out of bounds.

Possession #16- Parker Van Dyke fouled, makes 2 of 3 free throws, 15:12 left in 2nd half

Van Dyke does a lot of dribbling along the perimeter but finally finds an opening to make a bounce pass to Topalovic who is on the same spot on the left baseline as the previous possession. Jaylen Nowell converges to try to trap and Matisse turns his head and loses track of Van Dyke who immediately sprints to the corner. Topalovic passes it back to Van Dyke who lets go the corner 3 right as Matisse flies in for the block. Unfortunately, the ref says that Matisse hits Van Dyke’s shoulder as he goes by and therefore it’s 3 free throws. Van Dyke makes two of them which ends a nearly 6 minute scoreless drought for Utah.

Possession #17- Utah shot clock violation, 13:54 left in 2nd half

Riley Battin sets a screen for Sedrick Barefield and Matisse decides to go over the top of it which allows Barefield enough space to drive into the lane. However, he has Hameir Wright waiting for him and Matisse lurking right behind him so he stops his dribble and tries to find a pass to a cutting Battin. Barefield takes 2 steps but the refs rule that Thybulle batted the ball back into his hands and therefore it wasn’t a travel. The ref stops play despite the fact that they don’t call a foul and Utah gets to inbound it. Barefield ends up getting a pass to Brandon Morley who is briefly open in the corner with 4 seconds left on the shot clock. Dominic Green and Hameir Wright trap him and the 7-footer has no idea what to do and holds onto it for the last few seconds before the turnover.

Possession #18- Turnover by Charles Jones, 13:16 left in 2nd half

David Crisp turns it over on a poor attempt at an entry pass to Noah Dickerson so Parker Van Dyke tries to lead a 3-on-3 fast break. David Crisp lunges for the steal and misses but it slows him down enough that the rest of the defense catches up and Parker resets. Morley sets a hard screen on Matisse which opens up just enough of a lane for Jones to try a bounce pass to Van Dyke on the left baseline. However, it’s too low and out of the reach of Van Dyke for a turnover.

Possession #19- Missed 3-pointer by Sedrick Barefield, 12:54 left in 2nd half

Utah doesn’t waste much time running their set this time around. Jayce Johnson comes up and sets a screen on Naz Carter while Beau Rydalch sets a screen on Matisse Thybulle which gives Sedrick Barefield his pick of which way to go. Naz was playing closer to the basket to discourage a pass to the high post and so is forced to go under the screen. That gives Barefield just enough space to launch an off the dribble 3 from the wing. But it rims out and because both Utah big men were setting screens on the perimeter there is 0 chance of Utah securing the offensive rebound.

Possession #20- Turnover by Sedrick Barefield, 12:01 left in 2nd half

Utah starts the possession by trying to run the same action setting double screens for Barefield. He again attacks Naz Carter but this time Carter goes over the top of the screen and the refs call it a foul against Carter when he tries to shuffle his feet to stay in front. Barefield resets and overdribbles trying to penetrate when Jaylen Nowell leaves his feet to prevent a pass to the corner. It results in a travel and Barefield turns it over and is promptly pulled by Larry Krystkowiak.

Possession #21- Missed 3-pointer by Parker Van Dyke, 11:24 left in 2nd half

Jaylen Nowell isn’t quite able to prevent the bounce pass to Charles Jones in the corner by Parker Van Dyke. That gives Jones a driving lane but he quickly finds himself surrounded by all 5 Huskies. Van Dyke sprints to the corner behind Jones and Jones is able to spin and fire off a pass around Nowell to him. But Van Dyke’s momentum is carrying him away from the basket and he ends up putting up an airball but Utah is lucky that it goes straight to Johnson.

Possession #22- Jayce Johnson fouled, misses both free throws, 11:22 left in 2nd half

Johnson tries to go straight back up and dunk the ball but is smartly fouled by Timmins since Johnson showed no ability to make a free throw in this game.

Possession #23- Jayce Johnson fouled, missed free throw, 10:45 left in 2nd half

Beau Rydalch attempts an entry pass in to Jayce Johnson but he is fouled before the ball gets there by Sam Timmins trying to deny him the ball and Timmins fouls out in just 5 minutes.

Possession #24- Turnover by Sedrick Barefield, 10:02 left in 2nd half

Gach tries to immediately drive and penetrate but gets caught in the air and kicks it out to Van Dyke in the corner. Jaylen Nowell and Matisse Thybulle look like they want to trap but Van Dyke gets off a bounce pass in time to prevent it. Utah resets and Sedrick Barefield ends up driving after a screen by Rydalch but travels.

Possession #25- Turnover by Both Gach, 09:40 left in 2nd half

Both Gach decides that he is going to sprint straight towards the basket and screw the consequences. The problem? He loses the ball and there are 3 Huskies in his way including Noah Dickerson who takes one of the more obvious charges you’ll ever see.

And that’s it. If you survived 3,000 words later, good on you.

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