SALT LAKE CITY – Junior David Collette scored 13 of his game-high 22 points in the first half to help the Utah Utes (16-8, 7-5) erase a 10-point deficit, on the way to a 74-70 win over the Washington State Cougars (11-13, 4-8) Thursday night at the Huntsman Center.
Utah trailed 19-9 at the 12:49 mark of the first half following a 3-pointer from WSU’s Josh Hawkinson. But Collette countered with a bucket at the other end to spark a 9-2 run and get the Utes back within three points, down 21-18.
WSU got a bucket from Conor Clifford at the 7:18 mark to push the Cougar lead to 23-18, but a left-handed-hook shot from freshman Jayce Johnson ignited a 16-0 run, which ended on a throw-down-dunk from junior Tyler Rawson with 2:16 left in the half. The Cougars would get a pair of late three-pointers to keep it close, but Utah took a 35-29 lead into the break after trailing by 10 points more than eight minutes into the game.
“We started the game where we had two stretches where we had a hard time finding rhythm offensively,” said Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak. “There were a number of turnovers, transition baskets. They had ten transition points probably in the first six minutes of the game off of our turnovers. Then we did a nice job keeping our composure and getting stops. Throughout the whole game, I thought we were playing the right way.”
Utah led by as many as 11 points in the second half, up 56-45, following a 3-pointer from sophomore Sedrick Barefield, but WSU used a 12-2 run to get back within a point and later took a 60-59 lead with a 3-pointer from Malachi Flynn.
Utah trailed 65-62 with 3:34 left to play, but Collette poured in his 20th point of the night to get Utah back within a point and just one possession later, sophomore Parker Van Dyke hit a trey and the Utes never looked back.
Junior Kyle Kuzma, who was held scoreless in the first half, knocked down a pair of free throws to give Utah a 69-65 advantage, while junior Lorenzo Bonam and Van Dyke combined to make 3 of 4 from the charity stripe to seal the four-point victory.
“There were some good stretches and really ugly ones,” said Krystkowiak. “I mention the ugly ones, then a nice long stretch in between. Parker hit a big 3, made free throws down the stretch and gained our composure to manage to get a win. That is a much better team.”
Collette finished with a career-high 22 points as a Ute, going 7-of-9 from the field and 8-of-13 from the free throw line. Bonam added 13 points and Kuzma finished with 10 points to notch double-digits for the 10th straight game.
• Utah moved to 21-4 all-time against Washington State (15-1 all-time at home) with Thursday night’s win. The Utes have won seven straight overall dating back to 2014 and 15 straight games over the Cougars in Salt Lake City.
• Parker Van Dyke made his first start since Dec. 10 (at Xavier). He finished the game with six points on 2-of-7 shooting.
• Utah trailed by as many as 10 points for the third time in conference play, but still managed to come back and get the win (at Arizona State, vs. USC). It is the fourth win for the Utes when trailing by at least eight points (vs. Colorado).
• Utah outscored the Cougars 44-22 in the paint and 24-15 in points off turnovers.
• The Utes won the battle of the boards, out-rebounding the Cougars 35-28.
• David Collette tied a career-high with three blocked shots. Jayce Johnson added a block to give the Utes a total of four blocked shots on the evening.
• Lorenzo Bonam and Collette led the Utes with three steals each. Utah totaled 11 steals as a team.
• Utah moved to 15-6 overall on the season when at least three players score 10 points or more.
Utah closes out its two-game home stand hosting the Washington Huskies this Saturday, Feb. 11, at the Huntsman Center. The Utes and Huskies are set to tip-off at 2:30 p.m. MST. The contest will be televised live on Fox Sports 1.
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