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Utah fall short against Arizona State - A Game Thread

Instant Reaction and Analysis and Final Thoughts

NCAA Basketball: Washington at Utah Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Game Notes:

After a tough, hard-fought loss, the Utes look to rebound on the road against Arizona State in a game being made up due to Covid protocols within the Arizona State program. The Utes are coming off a road loss to #6 Arizona Saturday night 82-64. The Utes led for most of the first half before trailing Arizona by only three at halftime. The Utes held their own with Arizona and still only trailed by three until the 12-minute mark when they went on a seven-minute scoring drought which allowed Arizona to pull away. Turnovers again plagued the Utes in addition to the lengthy scoreless stretch. Despite the loss, it was definitely a positive sign for a reeling Utes team. Utah comes into Tempe with an 8-9 record overall and 1-6 in conference play. The Utes are also desperately trying to end a five-game losing streak. Arizona State is coming off a 75-57 loss Saturday night at home against Colorado after having three straight games postponed due to Covid health and safety protocols. Arizona State is currently 5-9 overall and 1-3 in conference play. Arizona State is looking to snap a three-game losing streak of their own. The Utes will continue to be without Branden Carlson (appendicitis), who is still recovering. Something is going to give in Tempe; let’s end the losing streak, Utes!

When: Monday, January 17 at 2 pm MT

Where: Tempe, AZ at the Desert Financial Arena

How to Watch: PAC 12 Network

First Half:

16:00- Balanced approach early as 3 different Utes have scored to give Utah a 7-4 lead early. It’s clear that Utah is employing a similar strategy to the one they had against Arizona in which they are slowing the game down and looking to shoot much later in the shot clock. It’s working so far and Utah’s defense has forced some tough shots from Arizona State as they are shooting 25% from the field.

12:00- Utah leads 11-10 at the timeout. The game getting a little scrappy for both teams as they each traded a few wasted possessions. Here’s something you don’t see often, Rollie Worster has to exit the game because of a ripped jersey. He’s now wearing the #40 jersey for the remainder of the game. Arizona State is 4-17 from the field early as they are forcing up some quick shots.

8:00- Both teams go scoreless for a few minutes before Arizona State makes a small run to take a 15-11 lead followed quickly by a Utah response to retake the lead 16-15 after a Stefanovic three. The Utes continue to be plagued by turnovers as they have 6 already. The Utes need to continue to look for points in the paint and late in the shot clock because it’s clear Arizona State wants to push the tempo.

3:00- The game continues to be back and forth as now Arizona State takes a 25-21 lead with just a few minutes left before the half. Utah has settled for some poor shot attempts the last few minutes and are attempting far too many 3’s. Utah is currently 2-9 from 3 point range for 22.2% and 9-23 from the field for 39.1%. The Utes have to drive to the basket and get better looks. Rollie Worster having a solid performance so far and leads the Utes with 6 points.

0:00- What a finish to the half?! The Utes go nearly 5 minutes without a field goal but are able to get to the free-throw line enough in that stretch to tie the game. After a missed Sun Devils free throw the Utes get down the court quickly and David Jenkins Jr. hits an off-balanced 3 pointer at the buzzer to give the Utes a 28-26 lead at the half. The Utes are 10-27 (37%) from the field compared to 10-33 (30.3%) for the Sun Devils. The Utes have been better in this game when they have focused on attacking the lane and either getting easier shot attempts or earning a trip to the free-throw line. The Utes have 9 turnovers in the half and will need to do better in the second half if they want to win in Tempe. Rollie Worster leads the Utes with 8 points and DJ Horne leads the Sun Devils with 8 points as well. Each team has attempted far too many 3 pointers in this game as the Utes are shooting 25% on 3-12 shooting and the Sun Devils are shooting 23.5% on 4-17 shooting from beyond the arc. The Utes have to drive to the basket and avoid any lengthy scoring droughts to end the losing streak. Let’s go Utah!

Second Half:

16:00- The Utes lead 32-31 as the game has become a little more physical in the opening minutes of the second half. Each team is fighting desperately to end their respective losing steak and the Utes will need a complete effort to maintain their lead. Keep attacking the paint Utes!!

13:00- Mahorcic picks up a 3rd foul on a highly questionable illegal block call and is forced to sit. Really tough break for Utah. Arizona State suddenly has a spark and a big 3 pointer prompts a timeout from Craig Smith. Arizona State leads 39-33. Arizona State has really turned up their defensive effort as the Utes are struggling to find any offensive rhythm. The Utes desperately need to slow this game down.

11:00- Mahorcic comes back into the game and his physicality immediately provides a spark. The Utes still trail 43-37 but if Dusan can stay out of foul trouble hopefully we can slowly get our footing back in this game.

8:00- The Utes sticking to the formula and only trail 47-45 with Both Gach getting a big layup with the and 1 attempt. The Utes are taking far fewer 3 point attempts and instead opting to drive to the basket. The Ute’s defensive intensity has picked up the last few minutes and they are clawing their way back into this game. Go Utes!!

4:00- Frenetic few minutes for both teams but the Utes have two huge 3 pointers from Worster and then a bank shot from David Jenkins Jr. to give the Utes a 56-53 lead. The Utes are doing everything they can to grind out a victory this afternoon but Arizona State won’t give in. Should be a great finish.

Final Thoughts:

Heartbreaking finish as Arizona State scores with 4.6 seconds left and Jenkins Jr. can’t get off a shot and the Utes lose 64-62. This one hurts really bad. The Utes led at the half and despite trailing a lot of the second half put themselves in a great position to win the game but came up just short. The Utes had 14 turnovers on the night and unfortunately, Arizona State took full advantage. The Utes were 20-57 (35.1%) on field goals throughout the night and 5-20 (25%) from 3 point range. The game was close throughout the night as the largest lead for either team was only 6 points. In the end, it really came down to whichever team had the final shot and time just ran out for the Utes. Winning on the road recently for Utah basketball has been especially tough and despite a tough effort from the Utes it just wasn’t enough. Carlson’s absence in this game really hurt especially when Dusan Mahorcic had to leave temporarily with foul trouble. It’ll be a tough road ahead for Utah without him for a few more weeks. Unfortunately, things don’t get any easier for Utah as we will now face two teams ranked in the top #25 at the Huntsman Center.

Next Up: Utah vs. #9 UCLA on Thursday, January 20 at 9 pm MT on FS1