Washington went to double overtime the last time they played Utah this season. They lost by 3 playing the Utes in the Pac-12 tournament last season. Tonight the Huskies made sure it wasn’t going to be a stressful viewing experience down the stretch as they used a 2nd half 12-0 streak to run away and coast to an 82-70 win over Utah. Terrell Brown Jr. as always was the catalyst for the Dawgs and finished with 22 points and 5 assists. With the win Washington advances to play the #3 seeded USC Trojans on Thursday night.
The first possession of the game went about as well as you could hope for Washington. Daejon Davis jumped a passing lane Matisse Thybulle-style and coasted for a fast break 2-handed slam. After an air ball 3 by Utah, Nate Roberts got a jump hook to fall and put the Huskies out to a 4-0 lead.
Utah rallied back with a 5-0 run of their own to take their first lead of the game over the next several possessions. Neither team played particularly well on offense for the first few minutes although when the Utes were able to score it was always on a nice assist. When Jamal Bey was fouled with 13:30 left in the first half it was only the 2nd foul of the game as he split a pair to cut Utah’s advantage down to 1.
The close play continued as neither team was able to build up more than a 3-point lead for the majority of the 1st half. Cole Bajema entered the game and helped turn around UW’s offense to keep pace. Terrell Brown Jr. found him as the trailer and he canned a 3-pointer for his first shot of the game which put UW up 19-16. Utah answered with a 3 of their own and Bajema got it done the old fashioned way with an and-1 to answer back.
Finally the 3-point barrier was smashed as PJ Fuller looked almost identical to Daejon Davis on that first possession as he jumped a passing lane and poked it away for an easy layup to put the Huskies up 24-19 with 8:28 remaining in the half. Utah’s Marco Anthony though had a monster first half pulling off his best Terrell Brown Jr. impression as he repeatedly hit a turnaround midrange jumper against the Husky zone on the way to 11 first half points.
Washington looked like they might be able to start to run away with it after Terrell Brown Jr. pulled up for a long 2 with just over a minute left to put UW up 6 points at 40-34. Utah didn’t let it happen as Marco Anthony sealed off Emmitt Matthews Jr. and got him in the air for an and-1 layup that cut the margin to 3 with 11 seconds left. It looked as if things might become a real disaster as PJ Fuller just let a pass go straight through his hands out of bounds giving Utah a chance for the last shot. Even though Utah is known as a terrible team forcing turnovers it was still stunning that this was UW’s first giveaway of the half. Luckily Utah stepped out of bounds with 1 second left in the half and so UW entered the break up 40-37. Cole Bajema led the way for UW with 11 points.
It wasn’t in quite the same fashion but Daejon Davis also got the 2nd half scoring going after a made layup to put the Dawgs up 5. As has often been the case for UW this season, defensive rebounding became the major thorn in Washington’s side. Utah missed shots but they followed up a stepback 3 with 4 second chance points to tie up the game. As the Huskies had done all night though UW kept the Utes at bay as Bey nailed a 3-pointer to go up 47-44.
It wouldn’t be a Husky game of course without Nate Roberts missing a 2-handed dunk and to top it off Bey got called for an over the back going for the long rebound. Utah’s Brandon Carlson swished a long baseline jumper and the Utes were back within 1. Terrell Brown Jr. finally started to get his mojo going as he scored 6 straight points for Washington over the next 3 possessions.
After a Marco Anthony floater the Huskies finally went on the run they had been waiting for. UW scored the next 12 points to go up 63-48 with 9:43 left as the Utes were scoreless for more than 4 minutes. The last of those points came with UW going small and Emmitt Matthews Jr. taking Utah center Brandon Carlson off the dribble for an easy layup.
Washington has struggled at times keeping leads by taking their foot off the gas and milking clock a little too early. It looked like it might be happening as Utah hit a couple of 3-point plays and got things back to within 10 with 6:32 remaining. Jamal Bey tried for the kill shot swishing a deep 3 as the shot clock expired but Utah answered right back with a 3 of their own. Bey finally managed to get it though when Nate Roberts got a rebound in traffic then dished it to Bey who was clobbered but got the layup to fall for an and-1. The made free throw put Washington back up 13 with 3:59 left.
Utah went with their full-court press but it resulted in a few easy Husky baskets which meant that despite the Utes hitting a few late shots Washington was never threatened.
Washington finished the game with a 16-5 turnover advantage which led to a massive Husky lead in points off turnovers and helped the Dawgs get it done. The hot 3-point shooting certainly helped too as the Huskies finished 8/18 (44%) from deep with 3 each from Jamal Bey and Cole Bajema plus a pair by Emmitt Matthews Jr. Brown led the way with 22 points but Bey with 19 and Bajema with 16 weren’t too far behind. If the Dawgs are going to pull off the upset and extend their season they’ll need to continue to get hot shooting from Bey and Bajema.
With the season on the line Mike Hopkins went with a 7-man lineup and for most of the 2nd half just a 6-man rotation with Cole Bajema coming off the bench and P.J Fuller mostly relegated. Emmitt Matthews Jr. played the center spot when Nate Roberts was resting but otherwise we saw 0 minutes from either of Riley Sorn or Langston Wilson. We’ll see if that’s the case on Thursday as UW will have to play a fresh USC team that is #4 in the country in average height. The old Syracuse zone has always been touted to be tough to play on short notice but that’s less of an issue in a conference tournament and especially when the other team has had the much better season and has played against it (to great success) before this year.
That quarterfinal matchup on Thursday night against USC is scheduled to tip off (again) at 8:30p on FS1.