Utah basketball: Jason Washburn excels coming off the bench
San Marcos, Texas • Jason Washburn could've sulked. He could've made any displeasure known. He could've become a locker room cancer in the wake of being pulled from Utah's starting lineup in favor of Dallin Bachynski.
Instead, the senior continued to be a leader. He calmly waited for an opportunity to contribute, and took full advantage when it came.
On Friday night at Strahan Coliseum, Washburn scored a season-high 18 points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked three shots as the Utes defeated Texas State 74-69.
More than that, Washburn provided a much-needed lift when Bachynski struggled. He scored, he rebounded and he defended the lane, all in 26 compact minutes.
"It says what kind of person he is," Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "Not many players could take not starting as well as he has, but Jason is one of the leaders of this team. He's going to always get plenty of time, and he's one of our most important players. We needed him tonight, and he delivered."
In a game where Texas State flew to the rim and sent multiple players into the lane for rebounds and putbacks, Washburn showed toughness that hasn't always been there in the past. He was patient when he received the ball with his back to the basket, and he made the most of his chances down low.
Washburn shot an efficient 7-of-8 from the field and made all four of his free-throw attempts. He didn't turn the ball over for the first time this season, and looked like the player everyone thought he could be when the year began.
"Coach does everything for a reason, so I wasn't mad at him at all when he told me I wasn't starting," Washburn said. "When I came in, I wanted to be ready. I wanted to get the ball in my dominant hand and get it up on the rim fast. This was really a big win for us. We really needed it."