I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve been tricked. Duped. Fooled into thinking that Washington had turned the corner, made progress, and matured. It’s a feeling I often got during the football season, and now, after being pleasantly surprised by a 4-0 conference start, including three road wins, I suppose the only surprising thing was that I was still surprised to see the Huskies give Utah its first road conference win in the Pac-12.
How did it happen? Well, you know the four straight opponents held under 40% shooting from the field during the hot conference start? The Utes shot 60%. You know how Wilcox has been averaging well over 20 points per game in Pac-12 play? He struggled to 14 points on 4-11 shooting, some of them too late in the second half.
Washington actually never led, as Utah got off to a hot start. From then on, a consistent pattern began to form. The Huskies would struggle to make shots with Wilcox being held in check, but eventually they would make a few good things happen in a row and narrow the gap to about 10. At that point, the crowd would get excited and hope would start up again, except that Utah always responded by hitting shots. That is what they did all game long. Jason Washburn finished 8-11 for 18 points. Jordan Loveridge had 17 on 8-14.
Part of it was shoddy defense by Washington. The energy level was, at times, low, and too many Utes were able to get easy baskets in the paint. However, in some cases, especially with Loveridge, the shots were hit despite decent defense. And I think that’s an important thing to remember. This loss is a big setback, but it wasn’t a depressing blowout like Colorado State. The loss was a result of a combination of factors. Utah’s shots fell. Some nights, given the same looks, they clearly wouldn’t have knocked down as many. Next, they took away Wilcox, and they have to be given credit for that. Add on top of that a little bit of that non-conference era lethargy from the Huskies and a whole lot of odd mental errors, and you have a loss.
Only time will tell if this is the beginning of a bad stretch or if this team will continue a pattern of maddening inconsistency by playing better on the road next week against Oregon State and Oregon.