Taylor leads Runnin' Utes to first Pac-12 win at Washington

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SEATTLE — After enduring a difficult start to the Pac-12 season, the hard work finally paid off for the Runnin' Utes as they landed their first conference win, 74-65, over Washington.

Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak had hinted after the last game that some of his younger players may have earned more playing time. Brandon Taylor's number was called Saturday night, and the freshman guard didn't disappoint.


Taylor came off the bench to play 30 minutes, recording career highs of 19 points and six assists in the Utah victory.

"He can shoot, he’s creative, and he has a little moxie," Krystkowiak said of Taylor. "He’s got a knack for getting into the lane and making some plays."

Utah's Brandon Taylor (11) drives ahead of Washington's Andrew Andrews in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, in Seattle. Utah won 74-65. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Utah's Brandon Taylor (11) drives ahead of Washington's Andrew Andrews in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, in Seattle. Utah won 74-65. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Senior center Jason Washburn scored 18 with seven rebounds, while freshman forward Jordan Loveridge added 17 points, five boards and four assists.

Washburn scored eight of the Utes' first 12 points, helping Utah jump out to an early 12-2 run.

"We have a lot of faith in Washburn," said Krystkowiak. "And that was a point for us — to try to get him some looks, jump shots or post-up moves, and I thought he set the tone for us on the offense. He’s been giving us a solid lift so far in the conference season."

Utah managed to maintain that cushioned lead for the duration of the contest, pulling ahead by as many as 15 in the second half, holding off every comeback attempt made by the Huskies.

"It felt good to be the aggressor," Washburn said. "We got nervous in the second half because we’ve blown leads before, but tonight we didn’t. We kept our composure."

"I thought the guys came out of the locker room with a focus of 'start to finish' and really concentrated on winning each possession," Krystkowiak said. "That was the message — instead of thinking about the game and the result, just get stuck in the moment for every possession."

Washington was led by freshman guard Andrew Andrews' 17 points and four assists off the bench.

The Huskies' average leading scorer, Pleasant Grove native C.J. Wilcox, was held to zero first-half points. The junior guard bounced back to score 14 in the second half, shooting 4-of-11 overall.

Senior guard Scott Suggs added 12 points on 4-of-16 shooting, which means the Utes held Washington's top two scorers to 8-of-27 from the field — less than 30 percent — behind the defensive efforts of senior Cedric Martin and junior Glen Dean.

Overall, Washington hit just 37.3 percent of its shots from the floor, while Utah shot 60.4 percent — its best shooting percentage in a conference contest since joining the Pac-12.

"It was just a gutsy team win," Krystkowiak said. "We had a whole lot of contributions from different guys. It was what we talked about. You get multiple guys playing well, and that’s how you win games. This is a tough league. There’s a lot of competition nightly, and I’m really proud of our guys."

The Huskies (12-6, 4-1) entered the match-up undefeated in conference play, while the Utes (9-9, 1-5) came in winless.

Aside from clinching its first conference win of the season, Utah also claimed its first Pac-12 road win since joining the conference last season, breaking a span of 13 losses.

"It feels so good. It only took us a year-and-a-half," said Washburn. "That was a tough team that hadn’t lost, and we came out here with the right type of energy, with the right type of mindset and once again we rose up to a challenging team."

The victory also marked the program's first win in Seattle in more than 23 years.

The Utes now return to Salt Lake City, where they will play each of their next three games. They will host the northern California teams — Cal and Stanford — next week, with Colorado coming to town the week after that.

Tyson Maddy has covered the University of Utah football and men's basketball teams as a contributing writer for KSL.com Sports since 2011. Follow his Utes coverage on twitter @Tyson_Maddy

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