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Utes get back on track with 78-69 win over Washington

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Sports) - Brandon Taylor scored 20 points as the Utes ended a 3-game losing streak with a 78-69 win over Washington.
University of Utah Men's Basketball vs Washington. 02-06-2014. Utah defeats Washington 78-69. (Bryan Byerly, © 2014)
University of Utah Men's Basketball vs Washington. 02-06-2014. Utah defeats Washington 78-69. (Bryan Byerly, © 2014)
University of Utah Men's Basketball vs Washington. 02-06-2014. Utah defeats Washington 78-69. (Bryan Byerly, © 2014)
University of Utah Men's Basketball vs Washington. 02-06-2014. Utah defeats Washington 78-69. (Bryan Byerly, © 2014)
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Sports) - Brandon Taylor scored 20 points and Delon Wright added 19 to help Utah end a 3-game losing streak with a 78-69 victory over Washington on Thursday night.

Jordan Loveridge added 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Utes (15-7, 4-6 Pac-12) who beat Washington at home for the first time since 1970. Utah pulled away in the second half despite committing 17 turnovers.

"The kids are working their butts off," said head coach Larry Krystkowiak. "I like where we are going. In the first half, the game could've gone either way but we stuck to it and got over the hump. The win relieves a little stress and helps us feel better about ourselves."

"We knew if we kept things up with our defensive intensity, weather the storm, we'd come out on the other side with a sunny day," Taylor said.

Former Pleasant Grove High star C.J. Wilcox scored 20 points playing in his final game in his home state to lead the Huskies (13-10, 5-5), while Nigel Williams-Goss added 19 points. Wilcox moved into fifth place on Washington's all-time scoring list with 1,749 points.

The Huskies whittled the deficit to four points on Desmond Simmons' layup to make it 67-63 with 1:56 left. Utah halted the rally when Taylor drilled a 3-pointer and Jeremy Olsen blocked Williams-Goss to set up a clinching layup by Princeton Onwas with 59.4 seconds left.

Both teams came out on fire offensively to start the second half. Washington made nine of its first 12 shots from the field. Utah made 10 of its first 14 shots.

It meant, for a while, that the two teams traded baskets on possession after possession. That finally changed midway through the second half.

With Washington leading 51-49, Utah held the Huskies without a field goal for 5 1/2 minutes and ripped off a 13-0 run. Wright capped off the run by stealing the ball from Williams-Goss and taking it in for a dunk to give the Utes a 62-51 lead with 5:52 remaining.

Washington missed six straight shots during the decisive run and turned the ball over five times.

Turnovers were a major problem for Utah through much of the first half. The Utes coughed up the ball four times in the game's first four minutes. Utah turned it over 10 times by halftime and Washington took full advantage - scoring 10 points off those mistakes.

It helped the Huskies carve out an early lead. Washington went up 9-2 on Simmons' basket just five minutes into the half. The Huskies limited their ability to create a bigger hole for Utah with poor shooting. They made just 36.4 percent (12-of-33) of their shots before halftime.

Utah did not stay down long. Wright took an elbow to the eye on his first basket of the game and left briefly to get stitches in the locker room. It sparked an 11-2 run for the Utes. Loveridge hit a jumper to give Utah its first lead and converted a 3-point play a possession later to put Utah in front 13-11.

Washington returned the favor with its own big run. The Huskies held Utah without a field goal for nearly four minutes and forced six turnovers. That helped Washington run off nine unanswered points - culminating in a jumper from Williams-Goss that made it 20-13 with 7:35 left before halftime.

Utah settled down and chipped away at the lead again. The Utes cut it to one, 20-19, on a pair of free throws from Dallin Bachynski. Washington rattled off three quick baskets - capped off by a Wilcox 3-pointer - to push the lead back to 27-20 with 3:49 remaining.

But the Utes had one more run in them before halftime. Taylor answered Wilcox's 3-pointer with one of his own to cut the deficit to four. Wright then scored Utah's last six points of the half - including a go-ahead layup with 12 seconds left - to give the Utes a 31-30 halftime lead.

Utah built a three point lead early in the second half, going ahead 37-34 on a layup from Taylor. Washington scored on two straight possessions and finally retook a 39-37 lead on another Wilcox 3-pointer.

The Huskies never led by more than two points in the second half and went ahead for the last time on a Williams-Goss layup that made it 51-49 in favor of Washington with 11:25 remaining in the game.

Utah next hosts Washington State Saturday at 6:00 p.m. at the Huntsman Center.
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