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Utah basketball: Jason Washburn has big impact as Utes roll to rout

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Jason Washburn, University of Utah Men's Basketball October 14, 2010 in Salt Lake City. ( Photo/Steve C. Wilson)

By Tony Jones

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Dec 28 2012 10:50PM
Updated Apr 8, 2013 11:34PM

A month ago, Jason Washburn could’ve sulked when he lost his job as Utah’s starting center to Dallin Bachynski.

The senior could’ve gone into a shell, or become a locker room cancer. Instead, he chose to play harder and to contribute.

In his first game as a starter since mid-November on Friday night, Washburn scored 10 points and grabbed four rebounds as the Utes defeated College of Idaho 72-38 in front of 7,943 at the Huntsman Center.

The numbers, though, are largely an afterthought, as Washburn’s presence on both ends of the court over the last four weeks has become too much for the coaching staff to ignore.

"I never thought just because Jason was taken out of the lineup that he wasn’t our most productive center," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "He’s been great for us, and he’s kind of been steady Eddie for us. We know what we’re going to get from Jason. Also, I thought Dallin was kind of putting too much pressure on himself to be productive. So with him coming off the bench, I thought the upside is a bit greater."

Krystkowiak said he made the move to take advantage of Washburn’s ability to score in the post with his back to the basket. And while Bachynski is stronger and more athletic than Washburn, the senior serves as a shot-blocker on the defensive end.

"I just wanted to keep working and keep doing whatever was asked of me," Washburn said. "I think whomever plays is going to produce. We have a long road ahead of us, so we just have to keep working hard."

The win over the Yotes on Friday night, an NAIA team with a sub-.500 record, was largely expected. The margin of victory was largely expected. Freshman Jordan Loveridge led Utah with 15 points and 10 rebounds, his third double-double of the season.

College of Idaho’s point total is the lowest allowed by Utah in the Krystkowiak era. And for the second time in two weeks, freshman point guard Brandon Taylor came off the bench to provide a major lift.

Taylor, who hasn’t seen major minutes this season, scored 14 points on perfect 5-for-5 shooting. When he entered the game, he pushed the tempo.

He got into the lane off the dribble, and he hit all four of his 3-point attempts.

"He’s a guy who’s very talented," Washburn said. "He can shoot, he can drive to the basket, he can do it all. He just has to work himself through the freshman kinks. If he does that, he’s going to contribute."

Utah ends the non-conference portion of the schedule at 8-4. There have been good moments — defeating Boise State and SMU are both solid wins.

There have been rough spots, like blowing sizable leads to Sacramento State, BYU and Cal State Northridge.

"It all starts for real next week," Krystkowiak said. "We have a lot of work to do, because we’re going to see some elite players starting next week."

tjones@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tjonessltrib

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