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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Men’s hoops: Runnin’ Utes stunned in Seattle, will be three-seed in Vegas

For No. 13 Utah, Saturday afternoon’s game at Washington brought back a lot of bad memories.

Before the Runnin’ Utes made the jump to Pac-12 contender this season, they were abysmal away from the Huntsman Center. It was as if there were two different squads suiting up for the Utes, one at home and one on the road.


This season, Utah improved but still never silenced its critics by not being able to sweep a road trip over a weekend. The Utes were looking to do that Saturday after pulling out a win at Washington State on Thursday, but the Huskies had different plans.

Thanks to a hot shooting night from Nigel Williams-Goss, who finished with 28 points on 11-for-18 shooting, Washington pulled off the 77-68 upset over Utah (23-7, 13-5) in Seattle.

Due to a recruiting trip immediately following the game, Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak was unavailable for comment, but director of player development Phil Cullen said the team is taking the loss hard.

“This one wasn’t a fun one to be a part of tonight,” Cullen said in a post-game interview with ESPN700. “There was one thing that [Krystkowiak] addressed [after the game], and that was the toughness aspect of it … that was something that really stuck out to [Krystkowiak].”

At the end of the first half, the Utes were leading the Huskies in rebounding 19-11, but thanks to just four rebounds in the second half from Utah, Washington ended up winning the battle on the boards, 28-23. Additionally, the Huskies shot a combined 57 percent from behind the three-point line, as four different players connected from deep.

The loss dropped the Utes from the No. 2 to the No. 3 seed for the Pac-12 tournament, as they finished with the same conference record as Oregon, who owns the tiebreaker over Utah, thanks to the Ducks’ victory in Eugene two weeks ago.

Delon Wright led the Utes with 21 points, but it was freshman center Jakob Poeltl who stole the spotlight in the first half. Coming off of one of this worst games of the season in Pullman, Poeltl came right out of the gate with aggression against the Huskies.

With 11:59 to go in the first half, the score was tied at 17 apiece, but 10 of those Utah points belonged to Poeltl. These weren’t just garbage buckets or putback layups, either. Poeltl patrolled the paint, using an array of moves to get to the rack with relative ease. The Austrian even showed off his strength, getting fouled on separate occasions but still finding a way to put the ball in the basket both times.

With two minutes remaining in the opening half the scored was tied 30-30, but thanks to a 6-1 Utah run to close the slate, the Runnin’ Utes went into the locker rooms with a five-point lead.

After Utah built a seven-point lead following a Poeltl layup in the second half, the Huskies responded by going on a 9-0 run to take their first lead of the second half, 47-45 with 10:32 to go in the game.

Things really went south for the Utes when Williams-Goss found his groove down the stretch. With 5:33 to go the Husky guard hit a jumper that began an unstoppable five-minute stretch. With Wright draped all over him, Williams-Goss drained bucket after bucket, absolutely working Wright all over the court.

Thanks to the hot streak by Williams-Goss and a perfect effort from the charity stripe in the closing seconds, Washington completed the upset and kept the Utes from sweeping a road trip for the first time since joining the Pac-12.

“We wanted to try and get some momentum going into tournament play here the next week,” Cullen said. “Unfortunately, that’s not the case, we’ll regroup. [Krystkowiak] has their full attention, after what he discussed with them. We’re going to go back to work on Monday.”

Utah will now get ready to compete at the Pac-12 tournament, where it will be in unchartered territory heading in as one of the favorites. The Utes’ first game will be on Thursday at 9:30 p.m. MT.


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