SALT LAKE CITY — With several former Utah players in the stands and a newly unveiled Rick Majerus sweater in the rafters, the Runnin' Utes held on for a 58-55 victory over Colorado at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.
After freshman guard Brandon Taylor forced a turnover by Colorado guard Spencer Dinwiddie, junior guard Glen Dean sunk two free throws to put the Utes up three with seven seconds left.
Then Dinwiddie's desperation 3-pointer was way off the mark for the Buffaloes, securing Utah's second conference victory of the season.
"Guys stepped up and hit big free throws," said senior center Jason Washburn. "That’s how you win basketball games. We came in here confident and believing we could win. A lot of guys contributed and played hard."
Washburn led Utah (10-11, 2-7) with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while freshman center Jeremy Olsen came up big off the bench for a career-high 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting in just 14 minutes. Senior guards Cedric Martin and Jarred DuBois added 11 and 10, respectively.
"Everyone stepped up and made some big plays today," Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "Jeremy Olsen, I thought, was big for us in the post."
The Utes led by as many as 22 after Martin banked home a 3-point shot with 12:28 remaining in the game, capping a 25-4 Utah run that started with another Martin 3 at the 2:36 mark of the first half.
But Colorado (14-7, 4-5) wasn't going down without a fight. The Buffaloes responded with a 26-5 run of their own to get back into the game in the final minutes.
Unlike a few other games this season, however, the Utes were able to hang on for the victory, despite being held without a made field goal over the final 10:44 of the game.
"It’s one of the few times that it’s a learning experience for us when we didn't lose the game," Krystkowiak said.
"We made our run in the second half. We let them make theirs," Washburn said. "I thought that at the end of the game our anxiety was a little unnecessary, but we played well enough to win. We pulled it out when it was important."
Dinwiddie led the Buffaloes with 18 points, while junior forward Andre Roberson recorded 10 points, 12 rebounds and four steals.
Utah dominated the paint during its big run, leading Colorado 24-10 in points in the paint at one point before finishing the game with a 26-22 advantage. At times, Washburn and Olsen were able to take the entry pass and score at will.
"I just went in there and played hard," Olsen said. "I was able to find some gaps in the defense and they were able to get me the ball on the block. Coach is always able to call some plays for me and I was able to finish."
On the glass is where the Utes struggled, yielding a 34-30 rebounding advantage to Colorado. The Buffaloes managed 12 offensive boards, which led to 15 second-chance points.
Keith Van Horn — who shared some thoughts on Majerus during halftime — and Andre Miller — who received a rousing ovation when showed on the Jumbotron during the first half — were the most notable former Utes present for the unveiling of Majerus' retired sweater.
"We’re halfway through league play now and I’m thrilled to get the win on a big night here," Krystkowiak said. "It was coach Majerus’ day and we had a ton of former players in attendance. I wish it would've been a little prettier there in the end, but we will take it."
Now, after picking up its second Pac-12 win of the season, Utah will head to the state of Oregon to face the Beavers (11-10, 1-7) on Wednesday and the Ducks (18-3, 7-1) next Saturday.
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