Another game, another blowout. It's been ho-hum for the No. 8 Runnin' Utes this Pac-12 season, as Utah dispatched Arizona State 76-59 in a game not as close as the final score. Utah improves to 4-3 against the Sun Devils since joining the Pac-12 and 1-3 in Tempe, getting the O-fer monkey off their back when playing in the Valley of the Sun. Utah notched their first win in ASU's building since an NIT game in 1992.
While the Utes started with a bang, with junior forward Jordan Loveridge nailing an opening 3-pointer, it took the visitors a while to really get going. But as often happens, the Utes just held the lead and slowly extended until it was a 17-point halftime lead, which also ended up being the final margin.
Delon Wright scored 21 point to lead all scorers, although he only shot 36.3 percent from the field (4-of-11). Wright made most of his points from the free throw line where he drilled 12-of-12. After being nationally criticized by ESPN for his 3-point shooting, the senior guard also shot 50 percent from deep (1-for-2). As if that weren't enough, Wright also dished out six assists and snatched two assists.
Loveridge finished the night with 14 points (on 3-of-5 from 3-point land and 5-of-6 from the charity stripe) and eight rebounds. His crossover and three with the clock winding down early in the first half kept the Utes ahead and turned away Arizona State's only real challenge in the game.
Joining Wright and JLove in double figures was Brandon Taylor with 13 points. Taylor also recorded two rebounds, two assists, and two steals.
Starting center Jakob Poeltl trailed just a bit behind his teammates (six points and seven rebounds) and never was able to really get into a rhythm in this game. Even with foul trouble to several of the ASU bigs, Poeltl only once showed dominance inside on a pivot and dunk. However, the big Austrian did shoot a perfect 3-for-3 from the floor, indicating the Utes guards might need to get him more touches in the post. He also recorded three assists and a blocked shot.
Utah's depth has been lauded recently as "underrated," and that was again on display in Tempe. Backup center Dallin Bachynski scored four points and grabbed five rebounds. Freshman forward Brekkott Chapman scored 7 points, and freshman backup point guard Isaiah Wright gave the Utes 20 solid minutes and nailed a 3-pointer.
Utah out-rebounded the home Sun Devils 32-28, but it wasn't their usual +9.0. Due to foul trouble to ASU center Eric Jacobsen, Devils head coach Herb Sendek decided to play small ball. The quickness of the smaller lineup seemed to bother Utah bigs like Poeltl and Bachynski.
Utah shot 53.7 percent for the game, another efficient outing, and a scorching 52.9 percent from behind the 3-point arc (9-of-17). The Utes also shot a season high 76.7 percent from the free throw line (23-of-30), mostly as Wright and Loveridge combined for 17-of-18. But the improvement in team shooting from the line will serve the Utes well on Saturday in what could be a tight, every-possession-counts-type of game.
Utah held Arizona State to 20 percent 3-point shooting in the first half (2-of-10 shooting), but that ballooned to 50 percent in the second half (7-f-14). While many of the Sun Devils' threes came in garbage time, it's still something that will need to be cleaned up before Utah takes on Arizona, as the Utes can't let up on a team as talented and well-coached as the Wildcats.
The real outcome of last night's game is that it sets up the Tussle in Tucson on Saturday at 5 p.m. MT between the No. 8 Runnin' Utes (14-2, 4-0) and the No. 10 Arizona Wildcats (15-2, 3-1).
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>ICYMI: AUDIO hear <a href="https://twitter.com/JordanLoveridge">@JordanLoveridge</a> talk with <a href="https://twitter.com/OnTheBenchCBS">@OnTheBenchCBS</a> after the <a href="https://twitter.com/Runnin_Utes">@Runnin_Utes</a> victory against ASU <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoUtes?src=hash">#GoUtes</a> <a href="http://t.co/oJi4M1nX8J">http://t.co/oJi4M1nX8J</a></p>— Utah Basketball (@Runnin_Utes) <a href="https://twitter.com/Runnin_Utes/status/556147374985187328">January 16, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>