The Washington Huskies were squarely on the bubble on the NCAA Tournament before Thursday’s game with Utah. And after a 70-58 loss at home that saw the Huskies outscored by 20 in the second half, they’ll have even more work to do to go dancing.
The loss drops Washington to 17-9 overall and 7-6 in conference. They now sit tied for fifth in the Pac-12.
Here’s a look at the game stats, via ESPN:
3 who mattered
Jaylen Nowell: The Huskies leading scorer this season was bottled up all game and couldn’t find his offense, shooting 3-for 12 on the night and scoring 9 points, his second-lowest total of the season. In fact, in the Huskies current three-game losing streak, Nowell has failed to reach double-figures twice.
Tyler Rawson: On the other hand, Rawson could do no wrong for the Utes, stuffing the stat sheet with 15 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists and two blocks. His frontcourt mate David Collette contributed 22 points on 8-for-10 shooting and 6-for-6 from the line.
Noah Dickerson: The big man was racked with foul trouble all night long, and eventually fouled out with a little under four minutes remaining. Even when he was in the game, he had no answer for Utah’s forward duo, who consistently got whatever they wanted. If the Huskies are going to make a late-season run, they need Dickerson to come up huge.
3 things we learned
The road to the tournament is now a lot longer for Washington
In addition to having lost their last three games, the Huskies now host a pesky Colorado team, before making the Bay Area road trip to Stanford and Cal. You would think the Huskies need to win all three to stay on the bubble heading into the final week.
Mike Hopkins failed to make adjustments
Live by the zone, die by the zone. Utah feasted on the Huskies defense in the second half, starting the half on a 19-6 run and knocking down 4 three-pointers in the first eight minutes. Hopkins just watched it happen, never bothering to try to switch to man, if even for a few minutes to stem the momentum as the Utes turned an eight-point halftime deficit into a five-point lead in no time.
If Nowell is not hitting, where does the offense come from?
Nowell has scored 14 or fewer points in seven of Washington’s nine losses this season. With no one else consistenly campable of shouldering the scoring load, teams may try to take him out of the game from here on out. If that happens, someone else needs to prove themselves capable of putting the ball in the hole, whether it’s Dickerson or senior guards David Crisp or Matisse Tybull, both of who are averaging in double-figures, but who are not seen as true scorers.