Runnin’ Utes Narrowly Defeat Washington, Earn First Pac-12 Tournament Victory Since 2016


University of Utah junior forward Timmy Allen (1) in a NCAA Basketball game vs. Arizona State at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Mar. 06, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Cody | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Cole Bagley, Sports Editor


The University of Utah Runnin’ Utes claimed their first Pac-12 tournament victory since 2016 as they defeated the Washington Huskies, 98-95.

First Half

It was a back and forth contest to begin the first-round matchup between Utah and Washington on Wednesday afternoon. Through the first few minutes, it was just a two-point game until Utah released the beast and put together a 20-2 run in less than five minutes. 

As the game neared the halfway point of the first 20 minutes, Utah led 26-10 thanks to some incredible shooting and suffocating defense. The Utes were torching the nets, shooting 10-16 (62%) from the field compared to Washington who was only 6-19 (31%) and couldn’t buy a bucket.

Things were looking good for Utah as Alfonso Plummer was knocking down shots early. He led the team in scoring early on with 10 points and had already connected on three shots from beyond the arc. Notably, the team as a whole was 7-10 (70%) from three-point range through the first 15 minutes, living quite well from the outside.

Despite the early shooting woes, Washington was able to get on a roll as they converted six-straight field goals and cut the lead to just 9 points, trailing 40-31. Additionally, Utah experienced their first scoring drought of the night as they went over two minutes without a bucket, leaving the door open for the Huskies.

Over the final few minutes, the teams traded baskets for the most part and the Utes walked in the locker room with a 47-35 lead thanks to an excellent performance by Timmy Allen, who posted 13 points and seven rebounds. 

Second Half

For a team that consistently had poor second-half starts, the Utes had a different look than we have become accustomed to as they began the final 20 minutes shooting 5-6 (83%) from the floor. Pelle Larsson had the hot hand as he splashed home two three-pointers and Utah led 60-45 with a little over 15 minutes remaining. 

But the Huskies were determined to stick around as they put together a 7-0 run in less than two minutes and cut the lead to just 10 points. However, big man Branden Carlson brought the Utes back to life as he knocked down an impressive mid-range jumper, increasing his totals to 10 points on a perfect 4-4 shooting performance. 

After that basket by Carlson, the Utes regained their composure and knocked down six-straight baskets, leading 78-60 with less than nine minutes to go. 

While the Utes had a comfortable lead, the two offenses were like a firing squad as Utah shot 17-23 (73%) from the field through 18 minutes in the second. Additionally, The Huskies were also shooting at a high rate as they were 18-30 (60%) from the floor which helped them trim the lead to single digits as Utah led 93-84 with 1:30 remaining. 

The Huskies did make things a little interesting as they refused to give up and were one dunk away from making it a five-point spread with just over a minute left. However, Martinez blocked Cole Bajema from behind, saving the easy flush and forcing the Huskies to put Utah at the line. 

While the Huskies gave it all they could in the final minute, it was too late as the Utes walked away with a 98-95 victory and advanced to the second round of the Pac-12 tournament. 

Performance of the Game

Timmy Allen had arguably one of the best all-around performances of his Utah career against Washington as he posted a double-double. The Junior guard scored 24 points on 8-13 (61%) from the floor and 8-9 (88%) from the charity stripe. Allen also grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out four assists in the victory. Many times throughout the season, Allen was shut down in the second half as teams made adjustments. But against the Huskies, Allen was effective for the full 40 minutes. 

“Being aggressive, trusting my teammates, coming with the right approach, and being ready to play,” Allen said. “It’s the simple things that can get you going down the stretch. Everyone is tired, everyone is hurt, it’s really just your mentality and how you approach the game.”

Notable Performances

He didn’t match his record-setting 11 three-pointers, but Alfonso Plummer was absolutely stroking from the outside as he knocked down six threes on 11 attempts (54%). Plummer also went 3-3 from the free-throw line, totaling 21 points on the evening. When Plummer is rolling, the Utes are tough to beat. 

Carlson had an impressive shooting night as he was a perfect 5-5 from the field. With 13 points, five rebounds and an emphatic block, Carlson was one of the x-factors for Utah against Washington.

Notable Statistics

Utah tied their season-high in scoring, putting up 98 points against Washington on 32-53 (60%) from the field. They also shot the lights out from the three-point range, going 14-26 (53%) from beyond the arc. Notably, six Utes finished in double-digit scoring illustrating that this was indeed a team effort. 

“Our guys shared the basketball and this is the time of year when you want to be knocking down shots,” head coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “I was proud. To have six people in double figures is a bit unusual in a college game but this is the time that guys need to be using up their rounds of ammunition and making them.”

A Look Ahead

With the victory, the Runnin’ Utes will advance to the second round of the Pac-12 tournament and face the No. 2 seeded USC Trojans on Thursday, March 11 with a tip-off of 6:30 p.m. MST.  The game will be broadcasted on the Pac-12 Network and, as always, you can listen to ESPN 700 with Bill Riley on the call.


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