Gunther & Ben

JP: Washington shows defense will travel in the Pac-12

Utah finished 20-60 from the field in loss to UW.

He watched the first half a row above the Huntsman Center floor. Utah trailed Washington 38-30, but with the Huskies defensive mettle, the lead felt like 20. The 2-3 zone can do that. He didn’t return to his seats for the final 20 minutes.

With former Runnin’ Ute Kyle Kuzma in attendance, Washington suffocated Utah into shooting 6-of-30 from three to win 69-53. UW snapped the hosts’ five game winning streak in the series for the first road win in Salt Lake City since January 7, 2012.

If Utah is going to win games in the below-average Pac-12, the Utes will need to outscore opponents or shoot outrageously from deep like the much-celebrated Arizona trip (27-51 on triples).

The current squad came into Thursday’s contest ranked 287th in defensive efficiency, according to Kenpom.com. It’s the worst defensive team of the Larry Krystkowiak era.

Mike Hopkins’s club owned the 46th defense and wasn’t going to allow Utah to pop offensively. The Dawgs zoned effectively, and the Huskies head coach highlighted the defense postgame.

When attacked at the tin, Sam Timmins gobbled opportunities for 4 (a season-high for the center) of UW’s 9 total blocks.

The Utes offered little resistance. Washington shot 37% in the first half but canned 7-16 threes. And offensively the Utes couldn’t get going. UW forced 6 turnovers in the first 13 minutes of the game, which led to 8 points. David Crisp grabbed two steals and dropped 14 of his 17 points during the stretch.

Defense will travel in this league. If opportunities are available, road teams need to steal games on the road. Mission accomplished for UW.


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