Utah 74, Washington 65
SEATTLE — A win would have been historic for the Washington Huskies, who were seeking a share of first place in the Pac-12 standings and their first 5-0 start in the conference since 1984.
However, the unthinkable happened Saturday night.
The previously red-hot Huskies came out flat and lethargic against Utah, fell behind by double digits in the opening minutes and never recovered in the 74-65 defeat in front of 8,598 at Alaska Airlines Arena.
The Utes snapped a four-game losing streak and claimed their first ever win on the road against a Pac-12 opponent.
The upset puts the brakes on all of the momentum Washington (12-6, 4-1 Pac-12) had gained over the past two weeks. The Huskies fell into a third-place tie with No. 7 Arizona (16-1, 4-1) before starting their toughest stretch of the season.
Over the next five weeks, Washington plays six of its 10 games against ranked teams.
The Huskies head out on the road next week for games at Oregon State and No. 21 Oregon, but maybe getting away from home will be good thing considering Alaska Airlines Arena has been the site of their worst games this season.
Washington lost to Albany, Colorado State and Nevada at home.
It’s latest setback was just as alarming.
The Huskies held their previous four opponents to fewer than 40 percent shooting, but they suffered several defensive breakdowns and Utah burned them repeatedly from the floor shooting 60.4 percent (29 of 48).
Utes freshman guard Brandon Taylor finished with a game-high 19 points, senior center Jason Washburn had 18 and Jordan Loveridge had 17.
With leading scorers C.J. Wilcox (14 points) and Scott Suggs (12) struggling offensively, redshirt freshman Andrew Andrews scored a career-high 17.
However, Washington didn’t’ have enough firepower to combat Utah’s trio.
The Utes built a 15-point lead (56-41) with 8:21 left, when coach Lorenzo Romar benched starters Abdul Gaddy, Aziz N’Diaye and Desmond Simmons and made one last run with a lineup that included Shawn Kemp Jr., Jernard Jarreau, Andrews, Wilcox and Suggs.
The Huskies pulled to 60-54 with 3:13 remaining, but got no closer.
Utah evened its record at 9-9 and improved to 1-5 in the conference.
The Huskies trailed 12-2 before they knew what had hit them.
While Washburn made nearly every shot he attempted, Wilcox had difficulty getting a clean look against guards (Jarred) DuBois), (Glen) Dean and Utah’s 2-3 zone. He was 0 of 2 and went scoreless in the first half. It was the first time this season, he’s been shutout before intermission.
Washburn had no trouble finding the bottom of the net. He drained 6 of 7 field goals for 14 points before the break.
The Huskies trailed by as many as 13 points (30-17) before cutting the deficit to eight (33-25) at halftime.