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 sport 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 evening 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 high of the important thing with 1:04 left within the sport. After a pair of made free throws by Arizona State on the following possession, Carlson discovered Marco Anthony alone beneath 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 strain on the Solar Devils, which grew to become 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 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.

“Once you name a timeout, you permit them to arrange their protection; and particularly in opposition to Arizona State the place they will — they’re so fast and athletic, I simply thought it might 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 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 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 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 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 sport the place the emphasis is attacking and getting it inside, we actually did not do this,” Smith stated, talking particularly a few 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 unhealthy method to have success.”

“I simply do not suppose we got here as able to play as we should always have, particularly for this sport,” Anthony added. ” … We all know that we may play significantly better than that. And I really feel like that confirmed in that final run we sort of made. And finally it did not find yourself with the W, but when there’s something optimistic to take 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 shedding finish of a lethal transfer by Utah’s Lazar Stefanovic that left the Arizona State participant on the bottom as Stefanovic drained the immediately 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 retaining 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 had been simply sort of all around the map with a number of various things tonight,” Smith stated. “I believed early within the sport Marco actually carried us, bought us off to a fantastic begin on the offensive finish.

“I believed we actually settled within the first half for straightforward photographs, fast photographs — 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 every week off earlier than the common season finale on the Huntsman Heart on Saturday, March 5 (7:30 p.m. MST, ESPNU) in opposition to the visiting Colorado Buffaloes, who upset No. 2 Arizona Saturday evening. Arizona was one of many six high groups ranked within the Related Press High 25 to drop a sport Saturday.

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