The Runnin’ Utes improved to 15-12 on the season, beating Washington State 92-79 on the road. The victory was a stark contrast to their previous performance over the Huskies earlier in the week, easily finding the basket and turning in a dominant second half to secure the win.
Sedrick Barefield was lights-out, hitting 10 of 19, plus 8 of 10 at the free throw line, securing a team high 33 points and four assists. Parker Van Dyke was electric off the bench after struggling in recent weeks, scoring 17 points. Though the Cougars led early in the first half, the Utes had no trouble sinking the three point shot to keep things close before getting their first lead at 5:46, which they never relinquished. Overall, it was a refreshing course reversal after falling apart just days ago to the Cougar’s biggest rival.
Despite being one of the PAC-12’s basement dwellers this season, WSU has strung together three impressive wins over their last four games, with their lone loss coming against the first place Huskies in a heartbreaking two-point defeat at home. Thanks to some stout defense from the Utes, the Cougars were sent back to their losing ways. Donnie Tillman recorded ⅓ of Utah’s total defensive rebounds,m leading the team with eight, while Jace Johnson claimed six of his own. Even more impressive, Tillman and Johnson combined for three blocks (two from Tillman alone) after failing to register a single shot block in their last game.
Keeping the Cougars grounded in the midst of their best run of games since the start of conference play looked to be no easy task, especially when considering the monumental breakdown the Utes suffered in the second half against Washington. Couple that with the continued loss of Timmy Allen, and all signs were pointing to Utah getting swept on their final road trip of the regular season, Despite the uphill battle, Larry Krystokowiak clearly had this team dialed in and ready play. The starting five was primed for a big game, and they delivered, keeping the bench inactive for most of the game and letting the success of the starters run its course.
It’s obvious Washington is the cream of the crop this season, so it seems a little unfair to judge Utah’s success against the Cougars the same way, but as mentioned before, WSU looked to be one of the hottest teams in the conference heading into next month’s tournament, but Utah easily walked away with a victory, showing that there is still life in his up-and-down team. No doubt, the inconsistency is maddening, but considering the state of the conference, Utah’s play is pretty much par for the course in 2019.