A four-game losing streak for the University of Utah men’s basketball team (11-7 overall, 3-4 Pac-12) came to an end on Thursday night as the Runnin’ Utes took down Washington 70-62 to grab its first Pac-12 win at home.
“It felt good. [We] finally got back on track,” said forward David Collette. “It was good to be back home playing in front of our home crowd — a little easier. We’re going to get it rolling now.”
Collette finished the game with 10 points and five rebounds.
The two teams shot similarly from the floor — Washington shot 38.5 percent from the floor and Utah shot 27.5 percent — 3-pointers played a key role in Utah’s win. Utah went 26 percent from downtown while holding the Huskies to 11 percent from beyond the arc. The Runnin’ Utes also out-rebounded their opponent, 44-38.
Justin Bibbins led the team with 10 rebounds and 20 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field, 4-of-9 from the 3-point line and 4-of-4 from the charity stripe. This was his first double-double in a Utah uniform.
Head coach Larry Krystkowiak was nervous before the game when he was told that Bibbins had a flu bug, but after Bibbins’s performance, Krystkowiak said he “pulled a little Michael Jordan.”
“I thought he was the spark and the catalyst from [the 3-point line]. He gave us a great boost, did a nice job,” Krystkowiak said. “Kind of a one man press breaker for us on the court.”
Things were tight early on as the Utes and Huskies went back and forth exchanging points until Matisse Thybulle, who ranks No. 1 in the Pac-12 in steals, got his hands on the ball. He stripped it from the Runnin’ Utes twice in the first half, but he was only able to finish with a bucket once.
The Huskies took their biggest lead of the night, a one-point advantage off a free throw, five minutes into the game, but they didn’t stay on top for long. Utah immediately went on a run as Bibbins and Parker Van Dyke had back-to-back 3-pointers, and Chris Seeley threw it down to put the team up 19-12. At the half, Utah led 35-24.
With 18:06 to play, Collette was called for a foul that allowed Washington to bring the game within nine points. Collette was fired up about the call, and on the other end of the court he tipped the ball to give Utah another double-digit lead.
The Huskies came within five points of tying the game with 4:36 left on the clock, but Bibbins stepped up and hit a clutch 3-pointer. Washington answered back with a bucket of its own to make it a six-point game. With 1:58 remaining, the Huskies cut the deficit to four points, but two offensive rebounds by Tillman and three pairs of free throws by Tillman, Bibbins and Sedrick Barefield pushed Utah to the victory.
“It [has] been a long time since we out-rebounded another team,” Krystkowiak said. “I wasn’t pleased with the fact that we gave up 17 offensive rebounds, but we also got 18 offensive rebounds, and I thought that might have been the difference in the game, particularly late when we were missing shots. We had a number of guys that were going and getting second ones and we were able to take a little more time and knock free throws down.”
The Runnin’ Utes will continue action at home as they host Washington State on Sunday, Jan. 21 at 6 p.m.