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Winning ugly, Utes edge Washington State with pretty finish

SHARE Winning ugly, Utes edge Washington State with pretty finish

SALT LAKE CITY — This time things were different. Instead of a lopsided outcome, Utah and Washington State actually had a competitive game Thursday night in the Huntsman Center.

The Utes prevailed 74-70 with David Collette leading the charge with 22 points. The junior scored four points in the final 3:11 to spark a comeback from a three-point deficit.

Unlike its previous two games against Utah — one here in 2015-16 and the other last month in Pullman that ended with identical 88-47 setbacks — Washington State came to play. The Cougars led 65-62 on a 3-pointer by Charles Callison with 3:34 remaining.

The Utes responded with a basket by Collette and a 3-pointer from Parker Van Dyke to regain the lead for good. Kyle Kuzma followed up with two free throws to make it 69-65 as the last two minutes evolved.

Although the Cougars managed to pull within one on two occasions in the closing minutes, the Utes held on thanks to free throws by Lorenzo Bonham and Van Dyke down the stretch.

“We got a pretty good punch from them and they deserve a lot of credit,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said of Washington State. “We have a lot of respect for them.”

Ike Iroegbu finished with 17 points and Josh Hawkinson record a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Cougars (11-13, 4-8) who were seeking their first win at Utah since 1946.

"We knew we weren’t the same team when we played them at home,” Hawkinson said. “No real moral victories. We know we can fight hard in every single game. Tonight we thought we had what it takes, we just came up a little short.”

Speaking of which, the Utes improved to 16-8 overall and 7-5 in Pac-12 play on a night when they were 2 of 15 from 3-point range.

“I’m just thrilled that we made two because if we made one we would have been in trouble,” Krystkowiak said. “So I’ll take it.”

Despite the tough night connecting, Krystkowiak wasn’t all that displeased with the shot selection overall.

Utah also struggled from the free throw line, missing nine of 31 attempts. Krystkowiak acknowledged that’s not where the Utes want to be.

“It’s not a perfect world and hopefully we’ll make some improvements,” he said.

The Utes got off to a sluggish start. Washington State scored the first six points of the game while building a 19-9 advantage.

“We just didn’t defend really well. They got a lot of easy baskets,” said Kuzma, who bounced back from a scoreless first half to end up with 10 points and eight rebounds. “When we didn’t see shots go in, we didn’t really defend. That’s what it was.”

Utah eventually applied the clamps on defense and held Washington State without points for a span of 3:32. The Utes climbed back into contention with a 7-0 run to make it 19-16.

It proved to be part of a 25-4 outburst that included a stretch of 16 straight points and a defensive shutout that lasted nearly six minutes, which gave Utah the first of its two 11-point leads. Over the final 1:27 of the half, though, Washington State had pulled within 35-29.

The Utes came out in the second half and regained an 11-point edge, but watched it dissolve in less than five minutes as the Cougars took the lead.

“You kind of get what you deserve when you’re disrespecting the basketball game,” said Krystkowiak, who acknowledged that things got ugly after the Utes had built a comfortable lead in the second half.

In the end, though, Krystkowiak said the Utes made enough plays in a game featuring some some good stretches and some really ugly stretches.

Utah hosts Washington Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

Email: dirk@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer