Utah comes from behind to stun Washington 67-66

Ryan Kostecka

Utah's offensive woes still haven't been solved. But if there was any proof that you pure grit, determination and defense will win you a game, the Utes did it on Thursday night.

Despite another cold shooting night, Utah rallied from behind to defeat Washington 67-66 at the Jon M. Huntsman Center. The win helped end Utah's four-game Pac-12 losing streak.

"We've had a funk with a number of guys here recently and it's been pretty ugly trying to find an identity," Utah coach Larry Kyrstkowiak said. "I thought it was good for two or three guys tonight to be able to find a little rhythm."

Among those guys who found a rhythm were freshman Rylan Jones and sophomores Rylie Battin and Timmy Allen.

Allen, who's been Utah's best player all year long, was his typical consistent self with 13 points, nine rebounds and three steals. Battin finished with a game-high 17 points, adding five rebounds in the process.

It was Jones' worst shooting night of his young career, finishing 2-for-11 from the field, including an 0-for-8 showing from beyond the arc. But he never let that deter him, scoring all 13 of his points with 5:35 remaining in the game, including a 9-of-10 showing from the free throw line.

"There's no give-up on our team," Jones said. "We're a bunch of tough kids. ... We just want to play hard and win. We weren't going to give up."

Utah (11-7, 2-4 Pac-12), which trailed by four at the half, scored two quick buckets to tie the game at 28. But Washington (12-8, 2-5 Pac-12) seized control with a 10-2 run, eventually stretching its lead to 12, 52-40, with just over eight to play. 

Down 62-55 with just over three minutes to play, the Utes went on a 6-0 run that was aided by three fouls on the Huskies, including a technical foul on Jaden McDaniels (team-high 14 points).

“What I’ve challenged our guys to do, let’s just play really hard,” Krystkowiak said. “A lot of times, if you’re getting bogged down statistically or shooting, whatever it might be, that’s the way I always tried to play. You play hard, you set a great screen, try to play some great D and usually, the game will honor you back if you approach it the right way."

After Washington stretched its lead to 66-61 with 1:25 to play, Allen and Jones combined to go 6-for-6 from the charity stripe the rest of the game for the win. The Huskies had a chance to win it in the end but Battin drew an offensive foul on Jamal Bey right before time expired. 

“I was just going to take what the game would give me,” he said. “I got fouled a lot and made my free throws. Every kid dreams about it. It was a surreal feeling I can’t describe. But I didn’t really bring our team back. We had some big plays by a lot of people.”

Utah will look for a sweep of the northwest schools when it hosts Washington State (12-8, 3-4 Pac-12) on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. and will air on the Pac-12 Network.