SALT LAKE CITY
– The Utah Runnin' Utes snapped a two-game skid and downed the Washington State Cougars, 88-70, in Pac-12 Conference play Saturday evening at the Huntsman Center.
With the win, Utah moved to 8-8 overall and pulled even in Pac-12 play with a 2-2 record. Washington State dropped to 7-9 on the year and are now 0-3 in the league standings.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Utes limited WSU to just seven field goals and a .226 shooting percentage in the first half and took a 44-24 lead into the locker room at the half. The Cougars would use a 6-0 run to tie things up early, 11-11, but Utah rattled off a 15-0 run and never looked back.
WSU would go 0-for-8 from the field during the next four and a half minutes and would make just four more field goals over the final 12 minutes of the half. Utah shot .484 (15-of-31) from the field in the first half, which included a 7-of-14 effort from three-point range. Both Gach
led the way with 12 points and Parker Van Dyke
chipped in with eight points in the first period.
WSU would more than double its field goal total from the first half, draining 16-of-33 (.485) in the second half, and outscored the Utes by a couple of points (46-44), but Utah's offense and defensive balanced proved too much for the Cougars. Utah finished the evening with six players scoring in double figures. Freshman Timmy Allen
led the charge with 15 points and was a rebound shy of recording a double-double, totaling a team-high nine boards on the evening. Gach finished with 14 points, while Riley Battin
and Charles Jones
totaled 11 points each. Van Dyke and Sedrick Barefield
concluded the double-digit scoring with 10 points apiece.
Utah had six players score in double figures in a single game for the first time since Nov. 15, 2016, when the Utes downed Concordia (Ore.)
Jones was one point shy of his career-high, but led the team with three made three-pointers. Van Dyke and Gach would total a pair of three-pointers each. Barefield was an assist shy from tying his career-high as he ended the night with seven assists, but he did manage to tie a career-high with four steals.
Utah finished the game shooting .550 (33-60) from the field, while totaling 20 assists on the evening. They would go onto register a season-high 11 steals overall, as well.
Utah will break for a full week and will be back in action with it lone Pac-12 Conference contest against Colorado next Sunday, Jan. 20. Tip-off between the Utes and Buffs is set for 4 p.m. MT at the Huntsman Center.
Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak
On scoring off your defense …
"We fueled our defense by making shots, and I think that there's always some type of correlation. I think back at the Washington game and we weren't bad defensively, but it's really hard when you don't see the ball going in. I think we did a good job defensively, there were far few errors, we did give up a lot of offensive rebounds. Overall, we graded out real well and get out in transition, it was less of a grind, when we do that, we don't turn the ball over. That's been the key, playing some defense and not turning the ball over."
On holding WSU scoreless for periods of time …
"We talk about kills where you get multiple stops in a row, and coach jones keeps track of those, you really don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that you don't put any pressure on your offense when you get those kinds of stops. It's been key for to rebound the ball and push the ball, we made 7 threes. Every game has those storylines, when you can put a goose egg on the board in terms of your defense it doesn't put as much pressure on you offensively. The crowd also got involved."
Freshman Timmy Allen
On bouncing back …
"We had a rough one the other day but we just turned it around and showed who we are. We're a team for it all, but we have a lot to prove still."
On playing defense …
"I think it started on the defensive end truthfully. Especially in that first half we were really locked in, we were able to get out in transition. It carried on to the second half, but we've struggled coming out of the half so we were able to get back on track tonight.
Freshman Botch Gach
On a good shooting night …
"There's a reason sometimes the ball isn't falling, so you just gotta get in the gym and get your reps up, get your shots up, for us it's just a matter of getting back to that."
On playing defense …
"It was pretty much just guys getting to their spots. All five guys have to be on the same page, we had to get multiple stops and get some kills.
WSU head coach Ernie Kent
On playing better last 10 minutes …
Yes, it had been stretched out at that point and unfortunately for thirty minutes we just weren't there. I looked at the Colorado game and it was the same thing so I don't know if it's just being on the road for six-straight right now, were not making excuses, I don't know if it's experience or growing up but they have to go through it. They have to see this arena they have to see Colorado and see those teams and when we play them back at our place we are going to be a better basketball team the second time around. You know both of those teams are tough and very physical teams and they make you play. You are not just going to go out there and go through the motions. You can talk to guys about that and even demand of it in practice but until they actually get out here and go through it they will have a better understanding now of how tough this conference is. Every team is good in this conference and everyone we are going to need to step up and play from the beginning of the game. We can't wait for 35-38 minutes of the game and then find out we are going to play, get tough and dunk on people now."
On having another bad shooting night …
"Well the shooting night, in my opinion, in this game also had nothing to do with their defense and had everything to do with us knocking ourselves out of rhythm. We got off to a good start in this game and then shot after shot we started making tough shots, we started not reading and not sharing the ball so consequently you start getting yourself into a situation where you are out of rhythm and you can't shoot the ball all of a sudden and all you have to do is look at the last 12 minutes of the game when you start sharing the ball making the right play giving it to guys at the right time you start shooting the ball better again. So, my talk at half-time was more along the lines of not Utah but us because here we sit again and until they understand they are not going to beat these teams going one on five. One guy can't beat these teams and so they are going to have to understand how to play together, how to grow together, how to share the ball together and that's the key to it. The good thing is they figured it out in the last 12 minutes and we can take it back home and continue to build off of it because it was not pretty in the first 30-35 minutes of this game and we did not play well at all."