It wasn’t the prettiest of efforts from the Utes against Wazzu on the road Saturday night, but they did just enough to get the win. It didn’t seem like it’d be that close of a game when Utah built a 20 point lead halfway through the first half, but they allowed Washington State to counter and cut that lead to 10 at the half. Utah’s ball movement in that first half was great. There was a lot of dribble penetration with ball movement around the outside until it landed in the hands of the open guy, it was beautiful basketball. After being on fire from three in that first half, the Utes fell in love with the long ball a bit and it dried up on them.
The second half, the Utes did a good enough job to keep Wazzu at arms length, but it was a lot more uncomfortable than it needed to be. The Utes were bailed out at times by Tyler Rawson, who was great tonigth with 15 points and 15 rebounds, including a timely and-one that stopped a WSU run in it’s tracks, after David Collette had the ball poked away and it landed in Rawson’s hands. Of course, Justin Bibbins came up clutch, within the last minute he hit a floater over the hands of a defender and kissed it off the glass to give Utah a 6 point lead, and essentially sealed the game. Bibbins 24 points were huge, and he played all 40 minutes of the game, and with Sedrick Barefield getting injured in pre-game, it was needed. Gabe Bealer was the punch that Utah needed off the bench, with 18 points on 6 made threes in the game. Utah was short in the front court too, with Jayce Johnson missing the game, and David Collette wasn’t great, largely because Wazzu was camping in the paint to eliminate many paint looks. Collette had 7 points on 3 of 5 shooting, which is no way enough, especially with field goal attempts.
All-in-all, a must win for Utah, since they couldn’t afford to lose a poor Washington State team. The second road sweep of the season for Utah is a nice feather in the cap, and swept both Washington schools for the season. Now the Utes return for the final three game home stand of the season before the Pac-12 tournament.
Can they make a run for the Big Dance? We’ll find out in the next couple of weeks.