PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) — Sedrick Barefield scored 33 points to lead Utah to a 92-79 victory over Washington State on Saturday night.
Donnie Tillman added 16 points and 11 rebounds for Utah (15-12, 9-6 Pac-12). Parker Van Dyke had 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting from 3-point range.
Robert Franks scored 29 points with seven rebounds for Washington State (11-16, 4-10). CJ Elleby added 16 points and seven rebounds.
Utah led 45-43 at halftime, but broke things open early in the second half with a 6-0 run after Van Dyke knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers within 40 seconds of each other, giving Utah a 64-50 advantage with 13:04 remaining.
Utah led by double digits for most of the second half. The Cougars were able to get within eight points in the last two minutes but were denied by clutch free-throw shooting from the Utes.
Barefield, Van Dyke and Both Gach made 10 of 12 free throws for the Utes in the last 2:35. Gach caught a long pass down court from Charles Jones, and finished with a big dunk to seal the victory with 52 seconds remaining.
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak considered tonight's game a must win after losing two in a row and being in the middle of a jumbled Pac-12 race for seeding. Before tonight's game the Utes sat at No. 5 in the conference standings.
"There was an extra emphasis and importance to this game to stay in contention for a bye in the first round, which is imperative for our team not overly deep, and it is virtually impossible to win four games in a row," said Krystkowiak. "Without this game it becomes a loaded deck for us, I was super pleased with the warrior mentality."
In the first three minutes, Utah found themselves down 10-2 after WSU completed a 7-0 run over 1:11. The Cougars' Marvin Cannon threw down a wide open dunk that energized the crowd to cap the run and forced the Utes to call a time out.
Down 31-26 with six minutes remaining in the first half, Utah would go on a 14-2 run over 2:25. The run featured a 3-pointer from Van Dyke that quieted the crowd and forced WSU to take a time out.
"I thought we started the game extremely well and in a great rhythm, and as soon I had to sub a little bit and get out of that rotations we have been in, I felt like the momentum of the game got away from us and we never really gained it back," WSU coach Ernie Kent said.
The run was capped by Barefield, who was fouled by Franks on a 3-point attempt. Barefield knocked down the 3-pointer and made the free throw to complete the 4-point play. Utah would not trail the rest of the contest.
"Short of the opening seven minutes of this game it was terrific for us," Krystkowiak said. "About eight or ten minutes in we decided to play some man and challenge their guys to guard and I think they did a really good job."
FIRST HALF SHOOTOUT
WSU's Franks and Utah's Barefield put on a show in the first half. Both players knocked down timely 3's and tough layups going back and forth. Franks scored 22 first-half points on 4-of-5 shooting from 3 while Barefield scored 19 and made 4 of 6 from long range.
The Cougars were 8 for 12 from 3-point range in the first half at 67 percent and Utah would go 10-of-17 shooting from 3 at 59 percent.
Utah finished with 16 3-pointers.
WSU junior forward Jeff Pollard sat out tonight's game with a concussion suffered in the first half of Wednesday's contest against Colorado.
"I think the unfortunate thing that happened for us this week was Jeff Pollard went down with a concussion that kept him out because we missed our glue guy," Kent said.
Utah: Gets back in the win column after losing two games in a row to Arizona State and Washington. The win comes at a crucial time with the Utes sitting just outside the top four seeds in the Pac-12 standings.
Washington State: Is starting to cool down after winning three out of their last four games. The Cougars are in the bottom half of the conference standings, and with the conference tournament nearing closer, tonight's loss shouldn't affect their seeding drastically come tournament time.
Utah: Travels to play Colorado next Saturday.
Washington State: Plays at Stanford on Thursday.
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