Washburn leads Utah rally over Arizona State

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 10:45 AM

Lynn DeBruin

SALT LAKE CITY -- Six weeks ago, Jason Washburn had one of the best games of his college career but it wasn't enough against Arizona State as Utah lost in overtime.

In the rematch Wednesday, he stepped it up offensively, matching his career high with 26 points and leading Utah to a 60-55 victory.

Afterward, the emotional senior let loose, punching the air, hugging teammates and exchanging high-fives with fans who stuck around to see the wild finish.

"He absolutely had his way with us," ASU coach Herb Sendek said of the senior center, who had a 19-point, 18-rebound effort Jan. 2.

With Utah trailing 53-47 with 3 minutes remaining, Washburn started the comeback with a pair of free throws.

He put Utah (11-13, 3-9 Pac-12) ahead for good with a reverse layup over Ruslan Pateev with 1:25 left and helped seal the victory with two more free throws with 25 seconds to play.

"We had a talk today in shootaround and we know where we sit in the Pac-12," Washburn said of the Utes, who entered the night tied for last in the conference. "That also makes us bad news for. teams trying to get into the NCAA tournament. That is just how our season played out. And tonight we never gave up."

While Washburn's numbers stood out - 9-of-12 shooting, nine rebounds, two blocks, two steals, one assist and no turnovers - several teammates also made key plays.

With Utah leading 58-55, Jared DuBois stepped in to take a charge against Pac-12 freshman-of-the-year candidate Jahii Carson.

DuBois then sank two free throws at the other end for the final margin.

"I think people got a glimpse of what Jahii Carson can do with the ball in his hands," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "JD (took) a huge charge down the stretch. We had a lot of energy and went with a smaller lineup to match them."

There was also Utes freshman guard Brandon Taylor.

He hadn't made a shot all night, spending much of his time trying to corral Carson along with other players Utah threw at him. When the Utes needed it, Taylor hit a 3-pointer that pulled them within 53-52 with 2:09 left.

Taylor also drew a reach-in foul from Carson as the shot clock was ticking down with 32 seconds remaining and Utah up 54-53.

Taylor sank both free throws.

"Brandon wasn't shooting the ball well and he makes a 3. But the key to the game when you look at it is that we made free throws," Krystkowiak said of Utah hitting 17 of 23, compared to just 4 of 10 for ASU.

Sendek was bothered most by Carson's foul on Taylor and another that gave the Utes four easy points.

"There were just things that didn't make a whole lot of sense," he said. "But to their credit, they made a nice 3 up top and then finished the game. We didn't finish the game the way we needed to."

The Devils (18-7, 7-5) have now dropped three of their last four, including a 62-59 loss to Stanford on Saturday.

"We don't have any easy games," Sendek lamented. "You've got to play really well to win. Sometimes you play really well and still don't win."

On Wednesday, Carrick Felix led ASU with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Carson added 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting; he had been averaging 24.3 points in four Pac-12 road trips.

The Devils led 49-41 with 7:17 remaining but were outscored 19-6 the rest of the way.

In both games against Utah, ASU managed just 55 points against a Pac-12 defense that is holding opponents to 38.5 percent shooting, and 62.8 points a game.

ASU trailed 29-22 at halftime, tying its lowest first-half output of the season.

The Devils shot just 34.6 percent in the first half and 40 percent overall, and made just 7 of 22 3-pointers.

Wednesday's game was as wild as the first, with both teams seemingly looking as if they had control at different times.

Utah led a 29-22 at the break, but ASU opened the second half with a 3-pointer by Evan Gordon and pulled within 37-36 after back-to-back layups by Felix, who put ASU ahead 39-37 with a 3-pointer with 11:05 remaining.

Carson's jumper capped the 9-0 run and gave ASU a 41-37 lead.

The Sun Devils went up by eight, 49-41, after Jordan Bachynski's block at one end and Chris Colvin's 3-ponter at the other.

The Utes, trying to avoid the Pac-12 Conference basement, refused to quit.

"I told our seniors on Monday that we have four home games and three road games left and that there is no reason to wait for the Oregon game to have senior night," Krystkowiak said. "These guys want to finish on a good note."

Washburn, who has stuck with the program longer than anyone, made sure of that.

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