Utah falls to Arizona State on last-second layup, the latest close loss in a season full of them

Utah got here again from 14 down within the last 10 minutes

Arizona State ahead Jalen Graham (2) defends in opposition to Utah guard Rollie Worster (25) in the course of the second half of an NCAA school basketball sport Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, in Salt Lake Metropolis. (AP Picture/Rick Bowmer)

Salt Lake Metropolis • Bobby Hurley was in classic type as Arizona State guard Marreon Jackson hung within the air to complete the game-winning layup. The notoriously demonstrative head coach spun round earlier than the play even completed, chest bumping his assistant coach Joel Justus.

The present of emotion wasn’t essentially uncommon for Hurley, whose type has made him the frequent goal of technical fouls. However on this occasion, the power the 52-year-old displayed was vital as a result of he felt his undermanned Arizona State staff had stolen a sport it had no enterprise profitable.

Earlier than that play, Utah had gone on a 14-1 run to tie the sport within the last six seconds. It felt like Utah had lastly damaged by way of and was about to seal a sport in opposition to an 11-16 staff. However as an alternative, Arizona State escaped 63-61. It was the most recent heartbreaking shut loss for Utah in a season filled with them.

“It’s very powerful,” Utah ahead Marco Anthony stated. “I simply don’t assume we got here as able to play as we must always have.”

This was a very bruising loss, and never simply because it was Utah’s seventh defeat by six factors or fewer. And never simply because Utah allowed Jackson to get all the way in which to the rim on the ultimate possession to have a simple game-winning layup.

As a substitute, it was tough as a result of this was a sport Utah was alleged to take. Arizona State got here in with a shedding report and with out starter DJ Horne. Recently, Utah had began to win video games in opposition to groups with shedding data — like Oregon State and Cal — however Saturday the staff reverted again to its type in January when it misplaced 10 straight.

For giant elements of the night, Utah settled for 3-pointers — the place it shot solely 26%. Utah had defensive breakdowns — permitting 4 gamers to attain in double-figures. If it weren’t for a full-court press within the last 5 minutes, Arizona State may need shot higher than 49%.

“That’s what we had been doing in early January,” Utah head coach Craig Smith stated. “We simply seemed completely different this weekend. Final weekend we had been actually powerful minded and actually related. I’m not saying we weren’t that means tonight however we weren’t for 20 minutes of the sport.”

The ultimate ten minutes masked a few of these points. Utah got here again from 14 right down to tie the sport on an Anthony dunk within the last 15 seconds. His 19 factors and Branden Carlson’s 15 factors had been almost sufficient for Utah to win.

However, the defensive breakdowns finally got here again to hang-out Utah. On the ultimate possession, Jackson took three dribbles to his left to complete a layup uncontested on the rim.

Utah had a last probability to tie the sport, however Rollie Worster ran right into a sea of yellow jerseys and the time expired. Utah had a timeout left, however Smith elected to not take it.

“That’s one thing we’re taught,” Anthony stated when requested if he needed to take a timeout on the ultimate play. “If a staff makes a layup, their response is to have a good time. We need to run. However on the finish of the day, it doesn’t come right down to the final possession. You speak in regards to the center 20 minutes as the place we misplaced it.”

And people center 20 minutes will likely be sticking with Utah for the following a number of weeks. This was the ultimate probability Utah must play a staff with a shedding report within the common season. It felt like Saturday evening was the chance for a rebuilding program to lastly present consistency.

Had Utah gained, it could have completed February 3-0 in opposition to groups with a shedding report. It’s a far cry from January and December when it misplaced to a winless Oregon State. However rebuilds aren’t linear. And Saturday was the most recent instance.

“If we play the way in which we’re alleged to play, we’re in all probability in a unique state of affairs proper now,” Smith stated. “However we didn’t. There weren’t a variety of issues going proper for the Utes tonight. I’m pleased with the way in which we responded. We gave ourselves an opportunity to win. However we didn’t.”

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