Jakob Poeltl led five Utes (18-7, 7-5) in double-figures with 23 points. Lorenzo Bonam scored 18, Jordan Loveridge 16 and Brandon Taylor 15, while Chris Reyes added 10 off the bench.
Marquese Chriss scored 24 points to lead the Huskies (15-9, 7-5), while Andrew Andrews tallied 22, Dominic Green 13, and Noah Dickerson 11. For Green, it was a career-high in 17 minutes of action.
The name of the game Wednesday was defense - or lack of it, in the case of Washington. They allowed Utah to shoot over 70 percent the second half, and 67 percent overall.
"Defensively we weren't very good at all," said Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar after the game. "Inexcusable, unacceptable. The last time we did this was at Arizona, and it wasn't a good result. First half we had transition opportunities we just gave back to Utah."
"They kept going over the top on us," added Green. "That's just great shooting for them. They had a great night and the crowd kept them playing at a high level."
Despite the inability to get stops, the Huskies gamely kept things close. A Green three that hit part of the glass with 9:50 to go cut the Utes' lead to one, 64-63.
"I didn't realize how deep I was in the corner. I saw it nick the backboard and go in, so I was like, whoa," Green said. "I just wanted to come in and do my part to help the team win, but we came up short."
"He did a good job helping us, and that's why he stayed on the floor," added Romar.
But then Utah went on a 13-2 run, capped off by a Bonam layin to give the home team a 77-65 lead with just under 7 minutes left in regulation. When Bonam wasn't scoring one of the 23 layins surrendered by UW, he was feeding Poeltl, who scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half.
"We allowed Bonam to drive right around us," Romar said. "We know better, and we didn't do it. Obviously I didn't do a good enough job of what we really wanted."
From that point on, Washington was in complete scramble mode.
True to their tenacious ways, they didn't give up. A 6-0 mini-run, capped off by an Andrews' three-pointer with 4:07 left in the game brought Utah's lead to six.
But the Utes countered with a 5-0 mini-run of their own to temporarily take the wind out of the Huskies.
Washington fought back once again, this time to within five with 1:25 left back-to-back dunks by Chriss and Malik Dime.
Forcing a missed three by Loveridge, Poeltl grabbed one of only two Utah offensive rebounds on the night - but it couldn't have been bigger. After pushing the ball out to the top of the key, the 7-footer showed the ball-handling skills of a point guard as he weaved past the weary UW defenders and emphatically finished them off with a dunk.
"On that play we fell asleep," said Green. "We played great defense the whole possession. We were rotating but nobody was looking for their man on the rebound. It was a bad sequence."
It was a bad night in general on the defensive end for Washington, who has to figure things out in a hurry. They have two days to get it sorted out before an 11 am Pacific Time matchup at Colorado.
"It's not going to be easy," Romar said of Colorado. "Just like Utah they are very good at home; they rarely lose. But we'll bounce back. We'll see what happens."