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.