Utah basketball: Utes crush Washington State 81-63
In unison, Utah's student section began its chant for little-used walk-on Austin Eastman with one minute left in an 81-63 shellacking of Washington State.
Almost simultaneously, the 11,634 at the Huntsman Center began handing out standing ovations like candy to Utah's starters, who were departing for the last time.
Eastman never moved from the bench. At this point, it didn't really matter. What did matter was that the Utes were so dominant over the Cougars that they cruised comfortably for the better part of 40 minutes.
"It just seemed like everyone was moving the ball tonight," Brandon Taylor said. "We played great defense, we drove to the basket, we made shots when their defense sucked in. It was a great team win."
This is what a blowout over a Pac-12 opponent felt like. Utah defeated Washington State by 18 points, matching its biggest conference margin of victory, over USC. Unlike the 84-66 victory over the Trojans, Saturday's conquest of WSU was never close. The Utes led by as much as 40-20. A sizable run in the first half put them in front 30-15. The lead dwindled below 10 points just once at 56-47. Utah responded by scoring 14 of the next 21 points, putting the game away for good.
In doing so, the Utes accomplished a few minor milestones on Saturday. The Utah program downtrodden for so long is guaranteed its first non-losing regular season since 2009. The Utes won their 16th overall game, one more than last year. They move to 5-6 in the Pac-12, somewhat erasing the sting of the previous three-game losing streak.
"It's been a long time since we've had this many people involved with a win," Krystkowiak said. "I thought we were really locked in defensively. We made a few mistakes, we got caught with our hands down a few times. But overall we were terrific in guarding them and it opened everything up."
Krystkowiak went as deep into his playing rotation as he had all season. He gave 10 guys regular minutes. Six players reached double figures. Taylor continued his solid play of late, scoring a team-high 16 points. Sophomore forward Jordan Loveridge scored 10 of his 13 points in the second half. Delon Wright was once again outstanding overall, scoring 11 points, handing out nine assists and grabbing five rebounds. Most importantly, the bench stepped up. Junior forward Princeton Onwas scored 10 points in 13 minutes, many of the athletic and crowd-pleasing variety. Dallin Bachynski dropped in 10 points and was perfect from the field.
Washington State guard DaVonte' Lacy led all scorers with 22 points, while D.J. Shelton scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. But none of those combined 41 points truly had a negative impact on the Utes. Time and again, Utah pounded the ball into the paint and scored on layups or bunnies at the rim.
"I think everyone was tired of losing coming into this week," Onwas said. "We wanted to come out, play hard and get some wins. We have to continue this into next week."
on twitter: @tjonessltrib
O Utah improves to 16-7 and 5-6 in the Pac-12.
• The Utes have six players score in double figures.
• Utah leads by as many as 20 points in the first half.
Utah 81, Washington State 63
WASHINGTON ST. (9-14)
Longrus 2-3 3-4 7, Shelton 8-16 0-0 19, Woolridge 0-3 0-3 0, Lacy 7-15 5-6 22, Johnson 2-8 0-0 4, Iroegbu 2-5 2-2 8, DiIorio 0-0 0-0 0, Kernich-Drew 0-2 2-2 2, Hunter 0-0 0-0 0, Railey 0-0 0-0 0, Ballard 0-0 0-0 0, Hawkinson 0-1 1-2 1, Boese 0-1 0-0 0
Totals 21-54 13-19 63.
Tucker 2-5 0-0 5, Loveridge 5-6 1-2 13, Olsen 4-9 2-2 10, Taylor 5-11 3-3 16, Wright 3-6 5-7 11, Kovacevic 0-1 0-0 0, Onwas 5-7 0-1 10, Van Dyke 0-0 0-0 0, Lenz 0-1 0-0 0, Fields 1-2 0-0 2, Ogbe 1-4 1-2 4, Bachynski 3-3 4-4 10.
Totals 29-55 16-21 81.
HalftimeUtah 42-26. 3-Point GoalsWashington St. 8-24 (Shelton 3-8, Lacy 3-8, Iroegbu 2-3, Kernich-Drew 0-2, Johnson 0-3), Utah 7-15 (Taylor 3-6, Loveridge 2-3, Ogbe 1-3, Tucker 1-3). Fouled OutOnwas. ReboundsWashington St. 29 (Shelton 10), Utah 36 (Olsen, Taylor 8). AssistsWashington St. 9 (Iroegbu, Longrus, Shelton 2), Utah 17 (Wright 9). Total FoulsWashington St. 17, Utah 18. A11,634.
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