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Utah Dominates Washington in Pac-12 Opener

The Huskies are now 0-3 after losing to Utah 76-62.

NCAA Basketball: Washington at Utah Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

The start of the 2020-2021 season is proving to be a tough one for the Huskies, as they dropped their third straight game with a 76-62 loss to Utah. Once again Washington proved to be offensively challenged, this time against a solid Utah team. The Huskies are now 0-3 on the season, the first time they’ve had such a start since the 2002-03 season.

Washington came out much more aggressive against Utah than in their first 2 games. Hameir Wright immediately tried to atone for his 1/10 shooting performance on Tuesday by swishing a 3-pointer on the first possession of the game. Then Nate Roberts got potentially his first post touch of the season and hit a nice little sky hook to give the Dawgs an early five point lead.

UW’s offense sputtered a bit after that but got a spark from Riley Sorn coming into the game as one of the first subs. He immediately sank what for most players would be considered a floater but for Sorn might be more accurately described as just dropping it into the basket to make it 7-4.

The Husky offense continued to show signs of life as Quade Green and RaeQuan Battle hit back to back 3-pointers. Washington might have opened up an even bigger lead except a pair of Battle made 3’s were waved off on illegal screen calls against Wright and J’Raan Brooks. However, shortly after Nate Roberts had a nice offensive board and a putback, Green pulled off a nifty assist in transition leading to another Roberts basket to extend the lead to seven at 21-14.

Unfortunately, that was the furthest ahead the Huskies would get. Wright fouled a Utah 3-point shooter and he made all of them to spark an 10-0 Utah run that gave them the lead. Quade Green hit a floater in the lane to temporarily stop the bleeding but the Utes continued their attack and at its worst in the first half was a 15-2 run to put the Dawgs down by 6. Utah always works on their fundamentals and they repeatedly executed perfect bounce passes to get around Washington’s arms in the passing lanes for either layups or shooting fouls.

Washington made a bit of a comeback though as Green hit a deep corner 2-pointer on a dribble handoff coming out of the under 4 timeout. He then managed to barely secure a tipped out rebound and drill a 3-pointer to restore Washington’s lead at 30-29. From there Washington fouled the Utes on 4 consecutive shot attempts. Fortunately, Utah missed a few of them and only turned it into 6 points. The Huskies should have had the final possession but Green turned it over trying to find Roberts inside then fouled with 0.9 left on the clock to gift Utah an extra point.

However, Green continued to be the engine of the Washington offense with 14 points, 3 assists, and 4 rebounds in the first half. All other Huskies were 2/11 from 3-point range and no one else took a free throw attempt. Green would finish the night with a career high 21 points.

Both teams started the first half with missed shots, until Jamal Bey fouled Utah’s Branden Carlson, who made one of two for a score of 32-38. Two minutes later Utah missed a 3-pointer but the rebound bounced off Nate Roberts’ hand and went out of bounds. Utah’s Rylan Jones capitalized on the turnover by hitting a crazy long 3-pointer to bring the score to 36-47, Utah. Erik Stevenson then made a couple of baskets for the Dawgs making the score 40-49, before Coach Hop took a timeout with 15:37 left.

After the break, Sorn was torched on a post-up by Carlson, 40-51. Kudos to Sorn who followed it up with a tip back on the other end, 42-51. There was a scary moment when Battle looked like he was banged up on a close out, leading to a foul on the floor. Baskets by Sorn and Green brought the Huskies closer, down just 46-51. Stevenson then came into the and hacked the Utah center on a layup attempt. He was visibly frustrated and was taken out (also due to a bloody nose) with 13:04 left.

It’s at this point that Utah began to pull away, going on an 18-0 run to push their lead to 46-69. Washington only gave up six points in the final five and a half minutes of the game, but they were already too far buried to mount much of a come back.

Other than Green, Roberts was the only other Husky to clear double digits with 12 points, along with 13 boards, and a block. Wright added seven points and 10 boards, while Sorn had eight points with six boards. The Huskies once again shot under 40%, and the team hasn’t cleared that field goal percentage yet this season.

For the Utes, Alfonso Plummer led the way with 21 points, while Timmy Allen added another 14, and Mikael Jantunen added another 10. Utah managed to score 23 points off of Washington’s 13 turnovers.

Overall, this was a disjointed performance from a Washington team in desperate need of an offensive weapon other than Green. While the Huskies looked better this time around than in the previous two games, I’m not sure we can expect significantly different outcomes until at least one more consistent scorer emerges on this roster.

The Huskies will next play Seattle U on the 9th at Hec Ed. Seattle U is 3-1. Go Dawgs.