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

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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 crucial half, was largely all Arizona State Saturday evening on the Huntsman Middle.

Arizona State capitalized on a five-minute scoring drought by Utah to go on a 9-0 run (11-1 run in totality) halfway by means of 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 ultimate minutes to place stress on the Solar Devils, which grew to become an efficient technique to restrict Arizona State’s capability to get attractiveness 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 staff elected to let the sport play out as a substitute of taking their ultimate 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.

“While you name a timeout, you permit 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 mentioned.

“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 received to be far more sound for 40 minutes, and I did not suppose we we did that constantly 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 by means of the second half and went on a 7-0 run that received 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 realize.

The Washington D.C. native completed the evening with a team-high 20 factors, however his play to neutralize Utah’s momentum was a large enough 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 actually did not do this,” Smith mentioned, talking particularly a couple of seemingly lackadaisical first half. “We took the simple method out and solely shot one free throw and had zero offensive boards, in order that’s an actual dangerous system to have success.”

“I simply do not suppose we got here as able to play as we must always have, particularly for this recreation,” Anthony added. ” … We all know that we might play a lot better than that. And I really feel like that confirmed in that final run we sort of made. And in the end it did not find yourself with the W, but when there’s something constructive 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 all of a sudden open 3-point look.

Anthony began the sport with the recent hand and scored 11 of the staff’s first 20 factors and was an enormous contributing issue to Utah retaining it shut with Arizona State within the first half as the remainder of the staff 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 had been simply sort of everywhere in the map with a number of various things tonight,” Smith mentioned. “I believed early within the recreation Marco actually carried us, received us off to an ideal begin on the offensive finish.

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

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

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Arizona blows out Utah as rebuilding Utes take a step back following two-game winning streak

Utah saved it aggressive in opposition to Arizona the primary time round. Thursday night time proved to be the alternative.

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

tragically 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 workforce is likely to be among the many finest within the nation and subsequent it’d play like a convention bottom-dweller.

His level was Utah could also be an 11-16 workforce, and 4-13 within the Pac-12, however just lately it was taking part in above its file. After two street wins, he thought this model of Utah might be aggressive in opposition to 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 tricky night time for us,” Smith mentioned. “I believed we regarded tentative at occasions. We did some good issues, however clearly not sufficient… I believed 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 outcome was by no means doubtful, however it was extra aggressive than most predicted. Thursday was nearer to the alternative.

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 might file into the locker room, Kriisa took two dribbles and knocked down a half-court shot. Utah, even when it had flashes of competitiveness, regarded outplayed and outmatched in each aspect of the sport.

“That’s only a good workforce,” Madsen mentioned. “Kriisa went on a bit run there by himself. That’s going to occur in opposition to a very good workforce. However clearly there’s a lot we might do higher.”

There have been some shiny spots for Utah. Madsen had 15 factors and David Jenkins added 14. Branden Carlson, who was coping with an ankle harm coming into the week, was efficient to start out the sport and completed 4-12 from the sphere 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 in opposition to Stanford and Cal final week.

Marco Anthony, who was key in breaking Utah’s practically year-long street shedding streak, had extra missed free throws than made. He mustered solely two factors in 24 minutes. The workforce 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 in opposition to Arizona it means the deficit will flirt with 30.

Arizona leads the nation in tempo of play and, for probably the most half, every turnover led to a quick break dunk of some form. 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 mentioned. “After they get out in transition, their spurtability is unbelievable. It’s just like the Nineteen Eighties Lakers.’

Finally, if Thursday was a take a look at of workforce’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 acquired all of it. You possibly can see their athleticism up and down the lineup. That’s the place we wish to go,” Smith mentioned. “However we clearly acquired a methods to go.”