Utah really needed this one.
Wins are nice, even if they're against mediocre opponents. Though the Utes had blown out Rice and Weber State entering Saturday's game against Washington State, there were still doubts. Yeah, wins were definitely nice for a program that had started 0-3 and put together its worst start in nearly 30 years. But defeating pasties doesn't necessarily instill confidence. So it was good to see Utah dominate Washington State -- a team that dominated the Utes last season. While the Cougars will most likely prove to be another mediocre opponent in a season full of them, you can't look past the fact they're a power conference team. Nor can you ignore the fact that they had started the season 7-0 and were capable of rolling into Salt Lake City and walking away with a blowout victory. This was a win Utah needed and one I hope the team can build on.
The Utes offense flourished Saturday, as the Utes connected on 58% of their shots. Leading the way for the Utes was Shaun Green with 17 points. Green, a sophomore, continued to impress in his second year with the Utes. Green has averaged 13 points per game this season, up from 7 points last year. What's more, Green's shooting percentage is an impressive 65% this season, a stat in which he struggled with last year. Other than Green, Luke Nevill had 16 points and Johnnie Bryant added 14.
On the defensive end the Utes shut down Washington State's offense, giving them their poorest shooting night of the season at just 42%. Washington State, prior to their game against Utah, had shot well over 50% all season long. Throughout the night the Cougars struggled, finding themselves down by 10 or more points for most of the game. Utah's largest lead was 25 points as the Cougars failed to make a game of it.
This was Utah's 10th straight victory over Washington State in Salt Lake City. The Cougars last won in Utah back in 1946. Utah now moves to .500 on the season and opens up a two game road swing Wednesday night against instate rival Utah State. After that the Utes travel to play Rhode Island on the 9th and return home for a game against Cal Poly on the 16th.