Huskies escape pesky Utes

It wasn't pretty, but Washington gathered itself in the second half and squeaked out a 57-53 win over an inspired Utah team on Saturday afternoon in Salt Lake City.

The Huskies (9-6, 3-1 Pac-12) were paced Terrence Ross' 14 points, but the story in this one was UW's ongoing struggles on the road and inability to put away Utah.

Even against the Utes, a team considered by many college basketball experts to be the worst among the big six conferences, the Huskies failed to control the game and – worse yet – never established any continuity on either end of the court.

In fact, it was Utah (4-11, 1-2 Pac-12), not Washington, that controlled the tempo for virtually the entire game, slowing it down and preventing the more athletic Huskies to get out in transition. UW didn't have a single fastbreak point.

Washington extended its slim 2-point halftime lead to 10 early in the second half, but the Utes answered immediately, led by senior Josh Watkins.

Watkins, a stocky, bulky guard reminiscent of former UConn point guard Khalid El-Amin, scored five quick points to lead the Utes on an 11-2 run, bringing the home team to back within one.

The game remained a nail-biter the rest of the way, with the Huskies clinging to a narrow lead and missing on several chances to put the game away at the free throw line. Desmond Simmons missed a pair of free throws, then Ross missed the front end of the 1-and-1 on back to back possessions, keeping it a five-point game.

Cedric Martin's deep 3-pointer with 10 seconds left made it a two-point game. But Ross, sent to the line once more, connected on two clutch free throws to put the game away for good.

Watkins finished with 18 to lead the Utes. Martin added 11.

The Huskies shot 43 percent from the floor and 53 percent from the line, numbers that would have been worse had they not heated up from the floor in the second half.

C.J. Wilcox, inserted back into the starting lineup in place of Darnell Gant, never found his rhythm and finished an uncharacteristic 2-for-13 from the field in his return to his home state. Wilcox was held to five points.

UW went with a four-guard starting lineup, using Aziz N'Diaye at center, Wilcox and Ross on the wing along with point guards Tony Wroten and Abdul Gaddy.

N'Diaye was the Huskies' second-leading scorer with nine points, with Wroten (8) and Gaddy (7) right behind him. Top Stories