"Very frustrating for us, tonight, but it’s not something that we did not anticipate," UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said after the game. "I don’t care what their record was going into this game. We talked to our team and even showed our team clips and films of them going down to Arizona State and having every chance to beat Arizona State. Then, going into Arizona and having every chance to beat Arizona. Those two games were on Arizona’s turf. Then going into UCLA at home and having every chance to win the game. We talked about that. We knew that this team was very capable and they would grind you and play defense.
"I just think we came out and we were lack-lustered defensively. They shoot 60 percent against us. Give them a lot of credit, they sliced us up. We just took a step back. It wasn’t the type and level of defense we’ve been playing and it cost us."
Jason Washburn scored 14 of his 18 points in the first half and Jordan Loveridge 17 for the Utes (9-9, 1-5), who spoiled the Huskies' chances at joining Oregon atop the Pac-12 standings. They did their damage inside, outscoring the Huskies 32-20 in the paint.
"Well, that was a focal point for us," said Utah Head Coach Larry Krystkowiak.
"We talked a lot about that the last couple of days. Got a lot of respect for N’Diaye as a big guy, but we also have a lot of faith in Jason Washburn, too, and that was a point for us, to try to get him some looks, jump shots or post-up moves, and I thought he set the tone for us on the offense, Jason did. He’s been giving us a solid lift so far in the conference season."
Washington (12-6, 4-1) was led by Andrew Andrews, who scored 17 points. He was joined by C.J. Wilcox, who finished with 14 points after being shut out in the first half, and Scott Suggs, who scored 12.
Utah started out the game blistering hot from the field, jumping out to a 14-4 lead and Washington was never able to recover. In fact they never led once in the game.
Wilcox, the leading scorer in the Pac-12 heading into the game with a 22.3 scoring average, went 0-2 in the first half as the Utes decided to front him and harass him all game long. Their strategy worked, as the other Huskies could not pick up the scoring slack and trailed at halftime 33-25.
"They just had a guy sitting in my lap, weren’t letting me get to places, weren’t letting me run the offense," Wilcox said of Utah's defensive effort against him. "They kinda made the other guys play. They kept denying me the ball."
The second half didn't start out any better for UW, as they didn't score any points until a Desmond Simmons layup with 16:14 remaining. The Utes were up 10 at that point and stretched their lead to as many as 15 with 8:21 left after a Taylor jumper came good.
Washington went on a quick five-point run to get the crowd behind them and tried to find Wilcox more, who finished 3-5 from beyond the arc in the second half, but by then it was too little too late. The Huskies were only able to narrow their deficit to six a few times the final four minutes but Utah made 10 of their final 14 free throws to ice the game away when UW was forced to foul.
"It was pretty dang good," Krystkowiak said of his team's poise down the stretch when Washington tried to get back in the game. "We made most of the free throws, which is the key I think. If you’re not making the free throws, then you have issues. We missed a couple of switches down there in transition and gave them some looks early, but overall I thought it was quite solid."
"You always have three keys that will give us the chance to be the best we can be," added Romar after the game. "The number one key that we talked about for two or three days was: Come ready to play. Be ready to play. We continued to talk about this. That’s why we showed film and make sure our guys understood what Utah was capable of doing. After our game with Colorado, I talked about Utah, one of the top defensive teams in or league. That’s why they are able to stay in these games."
Points: Andrews 17, Wilcox 14, Suggs 12, N'Diaye 6, Jarreau 6, Gaddy 5, Simmons 4, Kemp 1
Rebounds: N'Diaye 11, Jarreau 6, Suggs 5, Gaddy 3, Wilcox 3, TEAM 3, Simmons 2, Kemp 2, Andrews 1
Assists: Andrews 4, Gaddy 3, Wilcox 3, N'Diaye 1, Suggs 1
Steals: Simmons 2, N'Diaye 1, Jarreau 1
Blocks: Gaddy 1, Kemp 1