IT’S OVER — UW 57-53.
NICE SHOT — Ross made a three-pointer. UW 55-47, 1:31.
THIS IS A GAME — My projection for a 20-point UW win was way off. Not sure what I was thinking. Anyway, looks like the Utes wanted to keep it close and try to steal one at the end like they did Thursday against WSU. Cedric Martin drained a three-pointer and the crowd exploded. UW 50-46, 3:32.
FRUSTRATIONS? — Wroten’s pass to N’Diaye zipped through the big guy’s legs for a turnover. Wroten walked down court with his hands held high. He grabbed N’Diaye and they shared a few words. UW 50-43, 4:43.
NICE PLAY COACH — Out of the timeout, the Huskies dialed up a play for Ross. It wasn’t available on the right side of the court, but he moved to the left where he got a screen that freed him for a three-pointer. On the next possession, Wroten sank a layup. UW 48-42, 7:15.
NERVOUS TIME — Watkins dribbled around Simmons, dove into the lane and converted an off-balance layup. The crowd went crazy. UW 43-42, 8:57.
WHAT? — Javon Dawson’s short jumper had no chance of falling, but Ross prematurely snagged it off the rim. The refs called goaltending. UW 43-40. 9:36.
GOING ZONE — Romar is using the 2-3 zone because the Utes are getting into the lane and creating problems. The zone helps. Still Utah is hanging around. Not a good sign for the Huskies. UW 41-36, 11:52.
TAKING CONTROL — Washington’s defense is strangling the Utes. Nothing is coming easy for Utah. Ross just forced a turnover on the sidelines with help from Simmons who came over to trap. UW 38-31, 15:33.
NICE START — Looks like a different UW team. After scoring on their first two trips, the Huskies had a chance to deliver a big blow on the defensive end when Ross gave up a dribble drive that led to Washburn’s layup. UW 35-31, 17:23.
SECOND HALF — Simmons starts in place of Wilcox.
HALFTIME OBSERVATIONS — Needless to say the offensive execution hasn’t been the greatest. Washington is shooting 32.3 percent (10 of 31) from the field. It is 3 of 10 on three-pointers. The final play of the half was indicative of their troubles. The Huskies had plenty of time on the clock and after several seconds ticked away, Wilcox got the ball at the top of the key. He dribbled around a pick from N’Diaye and lost the ball beneath the rim. N’Diaye flipped what looked like a shot attempt and the Utes secured the loose ball as time expired.
Romar applauded the effort as the players ran off the floor. Others were left scratching their heads. Seems disjointed.
Wroten is unusually passive today. It’s not as if he’s shooting well (1 for 4), but he’s made just two aggressive drives to the rim. Both attempts were missed, including a fast break behind-the-back layup.
Gant and N’Diaye lead the Huskies with five points. Shocker. Not sure that’s happened at the half this season. N’Diaye is 3 of 4 at the line. His shot looks good.
Wilcox is 1 for 9. Perhaps he needs to stop shooting jumpers and get to the free throw line. He hasn’t taken a foul shot today. Neither has Ross, who is 1 for 5 from the field. Simmons (four points) and Gant are the only UW players who have made more than one field goal. Also shocking.
On the other end, it’s difficult to determine if the Huskies are playing well or if the Utes are offensively inept. It’s an unfair observation for UW. Wroten has played good defense on Watkins, who has a game-high six points on 1-for-4 shooting.
Kemp has provided nice defense as well. He has two blocks.
HALFTIME STATS — Click here.
HALFTIME — UW 29-27.
FOURTH SUB — Martin Breunig is in. N’Diaye tried to hit him with a pass into the post. Breunig was fouled and made both free throws. UW 29-26, 50.9.
NICE CATCH — Wroten whipped an entry pass to N’Diaye who did a nice job catching the ball. He got fouled (questionable) and made both free throws. UW 26-24, 1:40.
QUICK SHOTS — The Huskies are falling back into bad old habits of taking quick shots. They’re not reversing the ball. Probing the offense. Throwing inside or simply making the Utes move defensively. UW 22-21, 3:54.
NERVOUS MAYBE — Didn’t think Wilcox would be affected coming home, but he’s 0 for 7. His last three-pointer didn’t have a chance of going in. UW 22-19, 4:43.
MAKING CONTRIBUTIONS — Kemp has played some quality minutes in the first half. If he can catch Wroten’s passes, he may take minutes away from N’Diaye. UW 19-19, 5:57.
STRANGE BUT TRUE — Gant leads the Huskies with five points. He’s also shooting 2 of 3 from the field. Hines has five for Utah. Gaddy has four assists. Simmons has four rebounds. Weird game. UW 19-16, 7:26.
QUESTIONABLE CALL — Wroten picked up his second foul. It looked like good defense. I thought he was pushed to the floor by Wakins. The ref saw something else. UW 11-11, 9:37
NOT A GOOD SIGN — The crowd is into the game. Not sure when that happened. But the fans and clapping and cheering at random moments. Maybe the coffee is kicking in. The place is less than half full and there’s whole sections that are empty. But it’s a lively bunch. Also like the band. Not very large, but they play the classics. UT 10-7, 11:39.
UH-OH — Ross picked up his second foul. He’s out of the game. The Utes take their first lead. UT 8-6, 12:18.
MATCHUPS — Wroten is paired with Watkins. Interesting move. It shows coach Lorenzo Romar trusts the freshman can contain Utah’s leading scorer. UW 6-4, 13:11.
POOR SHOOTING — Both teams are a combined 2 of 13 from the floor. Wilcox is 0 for 5. Think he’s pressing. UW is 1 for 8. Yeah it’s ugly, but maybe this is just what the Huskies need. They have to win games like this and keep their energy going when the shots aren’t going in. Also got to be more creative in scoring points. It can’t be just jumpers. UW 2-2, 15:41.
FIRST SUB — Desmond Simmons is in for Wroten. It will be interesting to see if/when Gant gets into the game. UW 2-0, 16:36.
NO LIFE — This game is dead. There’s no juice in the building. I’m about 100 yards away from the UW bench, but I feel like they can hear me if I whispered. The fans are sitting on their hands. The game is a boring as well. Both teams can’t score. UW 2-0, 17:24.
INTERESTING PRE-GAME ROUTINE — Wroten and Andrew Andrews did a mock pregame routine in which Andrews threw a ball to Wroten as he walked out when his name was called. Wroten smacked a home run and they watched the ball sail away. Cute.
STARING LINEUPS — Slight change for the Huskies. C.J. Wilcox, a former star at nearby Pleasant Grove High, is starting. Darnell Gant is coming off the bench. Everyone else is the same: Abdul Gaddy, Tony Wroten Jr., Terrence Ross and Aziz N’Diaye.
Utah also made a change. G Chris Hines is starting for Anthony Odunsi. The rest: G Josh Watkins, G Cedric Martin, C Jason Washburn and F Dijon Farr.
BAD BODY LANGUAGE — Not sure about the Huskies, but I’m not fully awake yet. It’s understandable why Washington struggles in these early games. They’re 0-3 this season. The naysayers will say, the other teams are getting up early too. And that’s true when UW fell flat at home against South Dakota State. But the games at Saint Louis and in New York against Duke were easier for UW’s opponents because they didn’t have to adjust as much to the early tip-off. Not making excuses. Just an observation.
WINTER BREAK — Utah resumes classes Monday. The students are expected to return this weekend. Wonder how many will make it back early for today’s game.
ON TV — FSN has the game with Joel Meyers and Ernie Kent handling the call. Apparently the crew who handled Thursday’s game were less than impressive. Interesting. Can’t wait to get back and watch the TiVo.
NOT IMPRESSED — A few words on the Huntsman Center. It does nothing for me. It’s drab and boring. It’s distinctive looking from the outside. However, inside the circular structure isn’t ideal. Feels like an odd use of space. The concourses are small. There’s nothing special or unique. And it’s dark.
NEED MY BINOCULARS — The media seating is very high at the Huntsman Center. We’re off the court and just below the second level. Not just print media either. The radio folks are up here with us and they’re not happy about it.
LOW TURNOUT — Because of all of the snow, I’d think most Utahans will head to the mountains. There hasn’t been much snow this winter. It’s been the talk of the town. So got to think the turnout is going to be low.
EARLY MORNING — Beautiful day in Salt Lake City. It’s snowing outside. The Wasatch Mountains are white and sparkling. Good day for basketball.