Utes Pull Away In Second Half, Open Pac-12 On High Note Against Wazzu

Dec 29, 2023, 8:37 PM | Updated: Dec 30, 2023, 11:28 am

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Utes overcame a slow second-half start to blow out Washington State 80-58 in the Utes final Pac-12 opener at the Huntsman Center.

The Utes (10-2) hosted the WSU Cougars (9-3) on Friday, December 29.

RELATED: Utah Men Threatening In Latest Top 25

Gabe Madsen led Utah with 20 points on 4-of-9 from deep while Branden Carlson added 19 points, eight rebounds, and five assists. Keiba Keita made 6-of-8 from the field and the free-throw line to finish with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Utah’s defense limited the Cougars to 31.3 percent shooting and 4-of-20 (20 percent) from deep. The Utes scored 20 points off of 13 WSU turnovers.

First Half

Utah’s defense came out strong, forcing Wazzu to miss their first six shots. The Utes were only slightly better on the other end, hitting 2-of-8 to take a 6-0 lead at the first media timeout.

RELATED: Utah Football’s Top Plays From 2023

The Cougar’s first field goal didn’t come until the 14:51 mark when Jaylen Wells hit a three to make it 8-4 Utes.

A pair of Deivon Smith buckets helped Utah increase its advantage to 20-12.

A 9-2 Washington State run forced the Utes to call a timeout leading 24-23 with 4:46 left in the half.

A strong close to the half allowed Wazzu to break the 40 percent shooting plateau while Utah made 38.9 percent. The Utes missed all six of their three-point attempts.

Utah led 31-29 after 20 minutes.

Second Half

The shooting futility continued out of the break as both teams combined to miss the first five shots of the half before Myles Rice hit a jumper to tie the game at 31.

The Cougars used three offensive rebounds to open the half on an 11-3 run to take a 40-34 lead into the first media timeout.

RELATED: Roberts Has No. 12 Utes Offense Humming

Utah went more than three minutes between Gabe Madsen buckets as they struggled from the floor.

The rock fight of a game went back and forth in the middle stages of the half as six lead changes prevented either program from gaining a foothold.

Madsen’s third triple of the night gave Utah a 48-44 lead at the under-12-minute timeout.

Utah continued its run out of the timeout, extending the advantage to 58-46 after outscoring WSU 21-4 over 4:44 of playing time.

Another cold stretch awaited the Utes as they went more than four minutes without a field goal until Branden Carlson hit a three with 5:02 to play. While their offense was struggling, the Ute defense locked in.

A second three less than a minute later gave Utah a 16-point lead.

WSU went scoreless for almost five minutes down the stretch. The lead ballooned to 20 with the Cougars scoring attack absent.

Utah finished the game on a 14-2 run to pick up a 22-point win.

Follow the Utah Utes With KSL Sports

Craig Smith’s Utes welcome the Washington Huskies into the Jon M. Huntsman Center on Sunday, December 31. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m. (MT).

Find KSL Sports coverage of the Utah Utes here. 

Are you on Threads yet? Let’s connect, give us a follow @kslsports

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

  • Utah Utes Scoreboard

  • Utah Utes Team Leaders

  • Utah Utes Standings

Utah Utes


Brian Preece

Locals In MiLB: Justin Sterner Gets Second Cup Of Coffee With Tampa Bay Rays

The life of a minor league bullpen arm is rarely straightforward, as former BYU Cougar standout pitcher Justin Sterner can attest.

2 days ago


Michelle Bodkin

Kai Roberts, Micah Ashman Recount High School Basketball Rivalry After MLB Draft

Former Utah baseball stars Kai Roberts and Micah Ashman recounted a high school basketball rivalry after being drafted to the MLB.

2 days ago

merit jones...

Brian Preece

Utah Baseball Starting Pitcher Merit Jones Selected By Minnesota Twins

The Boston Red Sox have selected University of Utah starting pitcher Merit Jones with the 608th overall pick in the 2024 MLB draft.

3 days ago

micah ashman...

Brian Preece

Detroit Tigers Select Utah Utes Closer Micah Ashman In MLB Draft

Micah Ashman is the second Ute to hear his name called in the 2024 MLB draft after the Detroit Tigers picked him in the 11th round.

3 days ago


Michelle Bodkin

Getting To Know Utah Football’s 2024 Schedule: Arizona State Sun Devils

It’s time to dive into Utah football's game six against another familiar former Pac-12 foe in the Arizona State Sun Devils

3 days ago


Brian Preece

MLB Draft Day Three Could See Many With Beehive State Ties Selected

Unlike the NBA draft, the later rounds of the Major League Baseball draft always present opportunities for clubs to strike gold.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles


KSL Sports

Utah Hockey Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Want to get the latest info on Utah's newest sports franchise? Sign up for the Utah Hockey newsletter!


KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.


KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.


KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.

Utes Pull Away In Second Half, Open Pac-12 On High Note Against Wazzu