But the semifinals would be the end of that weekend, the fall down to earth. And no one hit as hard as Washburn, Cedric Martin and Jarred DuBois.
The three seniors walked away Friday night with a 64-45 loss to Oregon stinging them with every step. They had been stifled by the Ducks' swarming, held off the scoreboards as Utah had sunk into a double-digit deficit.
Washburn made it more interesting at the finish, adding 12 points in the second half.
"I think we played our butts off this weekend," he said. "If we had said we would play in the second round, I bet everybody would've laughed at us."
It had been quite different for DuBois early in the week. He played the hero twice, scoring 22 against USC, then dropping 21 on the Golden Bears, including a game-tying shot to send them to overtime.
There was no such magic on Friday night and no points either for DuBois. Utah's leading scorer was stuck in Damyean Dotson's shadow for the evening, unable to find his way to the hoop. His final stat line: 0 for 8.
Larry Krystkowiak said Oregon's defense made great strides to limit him.
"He's at the top of the list on the scouting report, and you have to be really, really good to overcome that." He said. "They were able to take us out of a lot of stuff we usually run for him."
Martin, never much of a scorer, finished the tournament without any points at all. He sat most of the second half as the Utes looked for ways to put points on the board.
Few seniors go out on a high note. Almost everyone's season ends with a loss. But this note was particularly low, especially for a class that has spent the last two seasons trying to ressurect a program lodged at the bottom of the Pac-12.