Tucson, Ariz. • Even with two close defeats on a road trip through Arizona, the Utah Utes are starting to define themselves offensively.
That's a good thing.
In the wake of losing to the No. 3 Wildcats 60-57, Jason Washburn and Jordan Loveridge are starting to emerge as go-to guys when Utah has the ball.
Washburn, a senior center, has become a big key. He scored 19 points and grabbed 18 rebounds against Arizona State on Wednesday night. He followed that with a 17-point, 11-rebound performance against the Wildcats.
In each game, Washburn was dominant for large stretches. He's now starting to live up to the hype surrounding his arrival to the Utes five years ago.
"I was just trying to help my team win," Washburn said. "I got some shots to go down and I tried to do what I could to keep my team in the game."
Washburn scored just a single bucket in the first half. That's because Loveridge dropped 13 of his 17 points on Arizona in the initial 20 minutes. The power forward made jumpers over the bigger Wildcat defenders. And when people like Brandon Ashley came out to guard him, Loveridge went around him for easy buckets.
Arizona adjusted in the second half, trying to take away Loveridge. In doing so, Washburn found openings and began to take over. The two are forming a nice tandem, and complement each other with their skills. Washburn operates with his back to the basket, while Loveridge plays a lot on the perimeter.
"I was just trying to play hard and to stay aggressive against them," Loveridge said. "Things started opening up for Washburn in the second half. We started to get some open looks there. Once we did, we started to make some baskets."