Utah is once again starting to resemble the team that took the Pac-12 Conference by storm earlier this season.
The Utes host Washington in Salt Lake City on Saturday night fresh off one of their best performances in league play. Fueled by a career-high 28 points from Branden Carlson, Utah beat Washington State 77-63 on Thursday night to snap a three-game losing streak.
The Utes (13-7, 6-3 Pac-12) were dominant around the basket, outscoring the Cougars 42-22 in the paint. Their tenacious defense also set up easy baskets as Utah totaled 17 points off turnovers.
“Our team, we knew we had to get back to ourselves,” Carlson said. “These last three games we (lost), we knew we weren’t ourselves.”
The road back to winning all started with Carlson himself.
Carlson went 11 of 12 from the field while adding eight rebounds and a pair of blocks to the mix. His efficiency helped Utah weather multiple rallies from Washington State.
The Utes — who won their first five Pac-12 games before the recent slide — had 20 assists and committed just eight turnovers.
“At the end of the day, we took care of business,” Utah coach Craig Smith said. “We shot 55 percent. It has been a little while. To have that kind of production on offense (was big).”
Washington also took care of business on Thursday night, securing its first true road win of the season and third straight victory overall.
The Huskies edged Colorado 75-72, completing a season sweep over the Buffaloes. Keion Brooks Jr. led the way for Washington, scoring 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting and has tallied at least 25 points in two straight contests.
Washington (12-8, 4-5) made at least seven 3-pointers for the fifth consecutive game and shot 45 percent from 3-point range (9 of 20). Still, the Huskies had to fend off a late rally after Colorado cut the deficit to a point in the final minute. They forced the Buffaloes to commit a turnover in the final seconds to seal the victory.
“We were really ready to play,” Washington coach Mike Hopkins said. “We were really locked in on what we had to do and I felt like we executed it. We got the ball where we needed to get it.”
Saturday’s game is the lone regular-season meeting between Utah and Washington this season.
–Field Level Media