Bey has Breakout Game for Huskies, Scores 28 in Win over Utah

The junior swingman hits 10 of 11 shots as the UW won its second consecutive game.
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Jamal Bey hit nearly every shot he put up on Sunday against Utah.

Who was this guy?

He was the sensational one from start to finish, mixing feathery 3-pointers with hard-nosed drives to the basket.

Bey?

Against the Utes, the 6-foot-6 junior swingman from Las Vegas put all of his talents on display against Utah, scoring a career-high 28 points and having a renaissance moment in an 83-79 victory at Alaska Airlines Arena.

Bey scorched the Utes by connecting on 10 of 11 shots, including all four of his attempts from 3-point range. He also chipped in 5 rebounds, 3 steals and a block. He might have even surprised himself a little.

"I've never been this efficient," he said. "My teammates were finding me. Every shot I put up pretty much felt good."

Where has he been?

Well, it's taken Bey two and a half seasons to experience a breakthrough and be someone other than guy who tended to blend in. He always had the size to make him hard to guard. The productivity just wasn't there. 

Now he's scored in double figures in five of his past six outings.

He did it just six times over the previous two seasons.

Against Utah, he exceeded his previous scoring best by six points, after dropping 18 two weeks ago on California.

Bey will tell you it was just confidence.

Or a lack of it that held him back.

"I looked in the mirror and said I'm better than this," Bey said. "I need to help this team win."

And, as Bey goes, so do the Huskies.

The UW (3-11 overall, 2-7 Pac-12) won its second consecutive game and, best of all, climbed out of the conference cellar, leapfrogging over Arizona State  (4-7, 1-4) and California (7-10, 2-8)

Not surprisingly, Mike Hopkins' team experienced another slow start, falling behind 7-2 right away. The Huskies trailed by as many as 12, the last time at 35-23 to the Utes (6-7, 3-6).

Bey and his teammates are a lot tougher group than they were in dropping all but one of their first dozen games.

For at least a week now, the Huskies are a far different team, hanging tough in crunch time after first picking up an 84-80 victory over Colorado.

The ball is getting into the hands of the guys who can put it in the basket. Bey teamed with fellow guards Quade Green and Erik Stevenson to collectively score 66 of the UW's points. Green finished with 20, Stevenson with 18.

By halftime, the Huskies had whittled that big deficit down to 44-41. Bey scored eight points in an 18-9 run to close.

Throughout the second half, the game stayed close, with the margin never more than six points.

The Huskies were up for it.

Trailing 79-76, Bey hit a corner jumper with 1:20 left.

Following a steal, the UW's Stevenson dropped in a leaner, was fouled, converted the free throw and the Huskies went up for good at 81-79.

Bey's two free throws with 13.9 seconds left created the final margin.

He had a big steal.

Bey even grabbed the redound on Utah's last shot.

The Huskies were as entertaining as they were difficult to watch earlier this season.

"It's a clean slate," Bey said. "Our record is 0-0 going forward."

Hopkins said his upperclassmen from Nevada just hung in there and kept trying to make a difference. As coaches, they made a little tweak that has only benefitted him.

"He just worked and he worked and he worked," the coach said. "I felt the change came when we posted him up and it was easy. His 3-pointer started falling."

It's taken Bey a while, but he's done a lot to shed that label as underachiever. 

Follow Dan Raley of Husky Maven on Twitter: @DanRaley1 and @HuskyMaven

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