SEATTLE – Riding a two-game losing streak in which its defense was virtually nonexistent, the Huskies unleashed a week’s worth of frustration on Saturday night.
Keion Brooks Jr. and Braxton Meah thrilled the crowd of 7,419 at Alaska Airlines Arena with an array of highflying dunks, while Moses Wood and Paul Mulcahy launched an aerial attack and drained a series of three-pointers.
Not to be outdone, Sahvir Wheeler and Nate Calmese drew huge ovations following dribble-drives for acrobatic layups in traffic.
The Washington men’s basketball team was firing on all cylinders offensively and their much-maligned defense stood firm while UW put together its finest performance of the season — a 98-73 victory against the Utah Utes.
Brooks finished with a game-high 27 points on 10-for-17 shooting, Mulcahy added a season-high 18 points, Wood had 17 points and four three-pointers while Wheeler added 12 points and 10 assists.
Washington improved to 12-9 and 4-6 in the Pac-12.
From the start, the Huskies made sure their rematch against the Utes would be different from last month’s matchup when Branden Carlson scored a career-high 34 points to lead Utah to a 95-90 win.
The 6-foot-7 Brooks took the defensive assignment against Carlson and UW sent an extra defender toward the 7-foot center when he touched the ball in the post.
The defensive tactic forced a short-handed Utes team missing Rollie Worster (leg) and Lawson Lovering (ankle) to find alternative offensive options and largely explains why they struggled to score in the first half.
Meanwhile, the Huskies connected on 14 of its first 18 shots, including seven straight field goals while building a 35-20 lead with 6:33 left in the first half.
Utah used a 10-2 run to pull to 37-30 and Washington answered with nine straight points to close out the first half and take a 46-30 lead into halftime.
The Huskies landed an early knockout when they began the second half with an 11-1 run to go up 57-31 and Utah never got closer than 19 points the rest of the way.
The Utes made things interesting when they scored six straight points to cut UW’s lead to 62-43.
However, the Huskies, which canned 11 of 24 three-pointers, got long-range daggers from Anthony Holland, Wood and Wilhelm Breidenbach’s three-ball put them up 83-52 with 6:55 left.
Despite rolling his ankle on Thursday, Devion Smith led Utah with 20 points while Ben Carlson had 10 and former Husky Cole Bajema 10. Branden Carlson finished with nine points on 4-for-9 shooting for the Utes (14-7, 5-5), which is 0-5 on the road in the Pac-12.
Washington has a week off before hosting cross-state rival Washington State on Feb. 3.