Late push falls short as Sun Devils edge past Utes in 63-61 loss

Estimated learn time: 4-5 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Two halves inform a full recreation story. And whereas the primary half was a back-and-forth battle, the second half, and arguably an important half, was principally all Arizona State Saturday night time on the Huntsman Heart.

Arizona State capitalized on a five-minute scoring drought by Utah to go on a 9-0 run (11-1 run in totality) halfway via the second half, and the remainder was historical past … or so the Solar Devils thought.

Utah erased a 14-point deficit to tie the sport up 59-all on a Branden Carlson 3-pointer on the prime of the important thing with 1:04 left within the recreation. After a pair of made free throws by Arizona State on the following possession, Carlson discovered Marco Anthony alone below the rim for a dunk to tie it up once more with 28 seconds left in regulation.

Utah utilized a full-court press within the remaining minutes to place strain on the Solar Devils, which turned an efficient technique to restrict Arizona State’s skill to get beauty on the opposite finish. However a blown protection by the Utes on the opposite finish of the ground allowed for Arizona State’s Marreon Jackson to interrupt free for a simple layup to and a 2-point lead with six second remaining.

Craig Smith’s crew elected to let the sport play out as an alternative of taking their remaining timeout and Rollie Worster missed a 15-foot jumper on the baseline because the clock expired to seal a 63-61 victory for the visiting Solar Devils.

“Once you name a timeout, you enable them to arrange their protection; and particularly towards Arizona State the place they’ll — they’re so fast and athletic, I simply thought it will be very tough to get one thing clear that method,” Smith stated.

“Extremely happy with our comeback and the way we dealt with that and gave ourselves an opportunity to win,” he added. “However to win on this league, you’ve got simply bought to be far more sound for 40 minutes, and I did not assume we we did that persistently for the primary half-hour of the sport.”

Utah (11-18, 4-15 Pac-12) made a late push to chop right into a 14-point deficit halfway via the second half and went on a 7-0 run that bought these in attendance believing in a comeback, however Arizona State’s Jay Heath had different plans. The sophomore guard hit a 3-pointer out of a timeout to finish the short-lived run after which hit one other on a following possession to cease any momentum Utah hoped to achieve.

The Washington D.C. native completed the night time with a team-high 20 factors, however his play to neutralize Utah’s momentum was a sufficiently big distinction to sway the sport’s consequence, particularly as Utah struggled to place collectively a constant stretch on offense and protection for the center 20 minutes of the sport.

“In a recreation the place the emphasis is attacking and getting it inside, we definitely did not try this,” Smith stated, talking particularly a few seemingly lackadaisical first half. “We took the straightforward method out and solely shot one free throw and had zero offensive boards, in order that’s an actual dangerous method to have success.”

“I simply do not assume we got here as able to play as we must always have, particularly for this recreation,” Anthony added. ” … We all know that we may play a lot better than that. And I really feel like that confirmed in that final run we type of made. And finally it did not find yourself with the W, but when there’s something optimistic to have a look at from the sport, it is that half.”

Arizona State’s Jalen Graham added 15 factors, 4 rebounds and two assists, and Kimani Lawrence and Luther Muhammad added 10 factors apiece within the win. Muhammad discovered himself on the dropping finish of a lethal transfer by Utah’s Lazar Stefanovic that left the Arizona State participant on the bottom as Stefanovic drained the abruptly open 3-point look.

Anthony began the sport with the recent hand and scored 11 of the crew’s first 20 factors and was a giant contributing issue to Utah conserving it shut with Arizona State within the first half as the remainder of the crew mixed for 21 factors.

The senior guard remained engaged within the second half and was key to Utah’s late run. He completed with a team-high 19 factors and 4 rebounds. He was joined by Carlson’s 15 factors and 6 rebounds as the one two gamers in double figures for the Utes.

“We have been simply type of everywhere in the map with a variety of various things tonight,” Smith stated. “I assumed early within the recreation Marco actually carried us, bought us off to an ideal begin on the offensive finish.

“I assumed we actually settled within the first half for simple photographs, fast photographs — particularly after Marco type of stopped semi-stopped scoring. Simply did not assume we performed in assault mode on both finish of the ground, fairly frankly.”

The Utes have every week off earlier than the common season finale on the Huntsman Heart on Saturday, March 5 (7:30 p.m. MST, ESPNU) towards the visiting Colorado Buffaloes, who upset No. 2 Arizona Saturday night time. Arizona was one of many six prime groups ranked within the Related Press High 25 to drop a recreation Saturday.


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Utah saved it aggressive towards Arizona the primary time round. Thursday night time proved to be the other.

Utah middle Branden Carlson, left, and Arizona ahead Azuolas Tubelis vie for a rebound through the first half of an NCAA school basketball sport Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, in Salt Lake Metropolis. (AP Photograph/Rick Bowmer)

Salt Lake Metropolis • Craig Smith started this week by speaking concerning the idea of malleability. All year long, he argued, groups can change form, getting higher or getting worse. One month, a crew may be among the many finest within the nation and subsequent it would play like a convention bottom-dweller.

His level was Utah could also be an 11-16 crew, and 4-13 within the Pac-12, however not too long ago it was taking part in above its file. After two highway wins, he thought this model of Utah might be aggressive towards No. 2 ranked Arizona.

However the idea of malleability works in each methods. Utah discovered that on Thursday night time in a 97-77 loss to Arizona. As a substitute of getting nearer to beating one of many nation’s finest, it discovered itself additional away with a deficit that ballooned rapidly and by no means improved.

“It was a troublesome night time for us,” Smith stated. “I assumed we appeared tentative at occasions. We did some good issues, however clearly not sufficient… I assumed they suffocated us at occasions.”

The final time Utah met Arizona, it went down by solely three factors on the half and misplaced by 18. The ultimate consequence was by no means doubtful, but it surely was extra aggressive than most predicted. Thursday was nearer to the other.

Arizona used the primary half to construct a 20-point lead as Utah crumbled underneath a deluge of dimension and taking pictures. Kerr Kriisa, Arizona’s sophomore guard, hit seven first-half three-pointers en path to 21 factors. The entrance courtroom mixture of Azuikas Tubelis and Christian Koloko mixed for 34 factors.

If there was a second that embodied the sport, it was the final 10 seconds of the primary half. Utah guard Gabe Madsen hit a three-point with 5 seconds remaining. However earlier than the Utes may file into the locker room, Kriisa took two dribbles and knocked down a half-court shot. Utah, even when it had flashes of competitiveness, appeared outplayed and outmatched in each aspect of the sport.

“That’s only a good crew,” Madsen stated. “Kriisa went on a bit of run there by himself. That’s going to occur towards crew. However clearly there’s a lot we may do higher.”

There have been some vivid spots for Utah. Madsen had 15 factors and David Jenkins added 14. Branden Carlson, who was coping with an ankle damage coming into the week, was efficient to begin the sport and completed 4-12 from the sector and 1-for-4 from three-point vary.

However there’s little query this model of Utah was not the one Smith hoped to see, or had seen in Utah’s back-to-back wins towards Stanford and Cal final week.

Marco Anthony, who was key in breaking Utah’s practically year-long highway dropping streak, had extra missed free throws than made. He mustered solely two factors in 24 minutes. The crew principally adopted his lead in unforced errors — lacking seven free throws and turning the ball over 14 occasions. Towards most groups that wouldn’t work, however towards Arizona it means the deficit will flirt with 30.

Arizona leads the nation in tempo of play and, for essentially the most half, every turnover led to a quick break dunk of some sort. It’s why the Wildcats went on a 23-2 run to finish the primary half — effecitvely ending the sport —and all 5 starters have been in double-figures.

“We had some catastrophic turnovers,” Smith stated. “After they get out in transition, their spurtability is unimaginable. It’s just like the Nineteen Eighties Lakers.’

In the end, if Thursday was a check of crew’s malleability — like Smith talked about — it confirmed Utah has a methods to go. And Arizona — a program ranked within the prime three in KenPom, the NET rankings and the AP Ballot — is the one rising.

“They received all of it. You may see their athleticism up and down the lineup. That’s the place we wish to go,” Smith stated. “However we clearly received a methods to go.”