The Washington Huskies trailed 12-2 before they knew what hit them. They never took a lead and never got closer than six points before falling 74-65 to Utah.
It was the most disappointing loss since stumbling 76-73 to Nevada on Dec. 8.
The Huskies will say they lost because their defense – which had been so good lately – was virtually non-existent. Washington held the previous four opponents to fewer than 40 percent shooting while winning four in a row. However, Utah shot 58.3 percent in the first half, 62.5 percent in the second and 60.4 in the game. It was the highest percentage – by far – for a UW opponent this season. Nevada shot 47.5 percent.
UW’s defensive performance was also surprising considering Utah entered the game shooting 39.7 percent against five Pac-12 teams, which ranked 11th in the conference.
The Huskies did a lousy job defending senior forward Jason Washburn (right, middle) who burned them early and reserve freshman Brandon Taylor who torched them late. Washburn scored 14 of his 18 points in the first half while Taylor had 11 of his game-high 19 in the second. It’s somewhat understandable for Washburn to be as productive as he was considering he’s been hot in Pac-12 play.
His previous scoring high was 14 against College of Idaho. But there’s something about undersized guards that continues to give UW fits.
The Huskies will no doubt work to fix their defense, but at some point they need to examine an offense that’s hasn’t cracked the 70-point barrier in the past seven games.
Every so often C.J. Wilcox will get handcuffed as he was tonight. With their leading scorer producing just 14 points, the Huskies struggled to find points.
Scott Suggs attempted 16 shots – one shy of his personal best – but he made four and was 2 of 9 on three-pointers. He had 12 points. Andrew Andrews finished with a team-high 17, outscoring starters Aziz N’Diaye (6), Abdul Gaddy (five) and Desmond Simmons (4) who combined for 15.
Said Lorenzo Romar: “For whatever reason, we didn’t come out playing with that energy and chip on our shoulder that we were playing with in the other four conference games. … We kind of allowed them to set the tone early because we weren’t moving our bodies and being as active as we should.”
Washington has a difficult stretch ahead. Five of the next 10 games are against that are currently ranked, twice against No. 7 Arizona and No. 21 Oregon and once against No. 24 UCLA.
“We know what we’re capable of,” Wilcox said. “We weren’t ourselves tonight. We know we can go on the road and get these two wins if we play the right way. It’s always tough losing. Especially at home, but we got to bounce back.”