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3 keys to Utah’s 77-63 win over Washington State

Branden Carlson scores a career-high 28 points on 11 of 12 shooting for Utah, which snapped its three-game losing skid

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Utah Utes guard Wilguens Exacte Jr. (wearing white) drives past Washington State Cougars forward Carlos Rosario (13)

Utah Utes guard Wilguens Exacte Jr. (11) drives past Washington State Cougars forward Carlos Rosario (13) at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Utah snapped its three-game losing skid on Thursday night, holding off Washington State 77-63 at the Huntsman Center.

The Utes (13-7, 6-3) mostly shined on both ends of the floor, shooting 55% and holding the Cougars (9-11, 4-5) to 34%. Utah outscored the visitors 42-22 in the paint. 

Branden Carlson led Utah with a career-high 28 points on 11 of 12 shooting a week after missing the game at UCLA due to illness.

Here are 3 keys to Utah’s skid-snapping win:

• The defense that carried Utah to a 5-0 start in the Pac-12 returned in a big way, as Wazzu struggled to find any sort of offensive rhythm the entire night. The Cougars shot 35% in the first half (12 of 34) but stayed reasonably close by getting 11 offensive rebounds, which it turned into eight second-chance points. 

• Utah rediscovered its shooting touch after three straight subpar outings in that category. The Utes shot 57% in the first half (16 of 28) and were 5 of 12 from deep in the first 20 minutes to take a 39-31 halftime lead. They never trailed in sweeping the season series from the visiting Cougars and finished shooting 55%, including 41% from 3-point range.

• Going against the 6-11 Mouhamed Gueye (20 points), the 7-foot Carlson was sensational in the first half for the Utes, scoring 21 points on 8 of 8 shooting (3 of 3 from 3-point range) and grabbing five rebounds in 15 minutes. Carlson scored 17 points in the first half last week against USC after missing the UCLA game with an illness.