TEMPE, Ariz. – The Arizona State men’s basketball team topped the Utah Utes, 79-75, in a hard fought battle that went down to the wire Thursday night at Wells Fargo Arena. A 7-0 Sun Devil scoring run gave Arizona State an eight-point lead with just over a minute to play to pull away from the Utes after the teams were neck-and-neck for the majority of the second half.
Arizona State improves to 14-5 on the season and 3-3 in Pac-12 Conference games, and was led by Jahii Carson, who had 23 points and eight boards. Jordan Bachynski recorded his 10th double-double this season, with 11 points and 12 boards, with most of his points coming from the charity stripe. Bachynski also blocked four shots, which brings him within 13 blocks of setting the Pac-12 career mark, which is currently held by Anthony Cook of Arizona, who had 278 blocks from 1985-89. Jonathan Gilling had a spectacular performance with 13 points on 5-for-5 shooting. Shaquielle McKissic and Bo Barnes added 11 and nine points respectively.
It was a tale of two halves, as the Sun Devils struggled for most of the first half before stealing momentum from the Utes in the second half. Arizona State started the second half with a hot start, taking its first lead since early in the first half, 46-45, at the first official timeout in the second half. Barnes scored five points and Bachynski drained a pair of free throws, as Arizona State put together a 7-0 run to pass Utah on the scoreboard.
Once the Sun Devils took the lead, a hard fought battle ensued, with the teams keeping close for the remainder of the game. Arizona State pulled away in the final minutes of the game, using another 7-0 run to lead by eight, 75-67, with just over a minute remaining.
With the loss, Utah falls to 14-5 overall and 3-4 in conference games. Jordan Loveridge and Delon Wright paced the Utes with a pair of 20-point performances, scoring 22 and 21 points respectively and each grabbed six boards. Brandon Taylor added 11 points as the only other Ute to score in double figures.
Even though Utah had the shooting touch early in the game, it was the Sun Devils that made its shots when it counted. Arizona State finished the game shooting 53.1 percent from the field, and 42.9 percent from the perimeter, after a slow start to the game. Utah, which shot well over 50 percent in the first half from the field and from three-point range, could not execute in the second half and finished the game shooting 49.0 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from beyond the arc. The Sun Devils held a 34-26 advantage on the glass and scored 26 points off the bench.
Despite a significant difference in shooting percentages, the score remained tight for the first 10 minutes of the game before Utah’s shooting prowess resulted in a 9-0 scoring run over 2:36, which forced Arizona State to call a timeout to try to end the run with 8:05 remaining in the first half, trailing 28-19.
Following the timeout, momentum shifted in Arizona State’s favor, as a 14-8 Sun Devil run trimmed the deficit to three points, 36-33, at the final media timeout of the opening half. After Bachynski ended the scoring drought with a pair of free throws, Carson put life into his team, scoring seven straight points before Gilling capped the run with a three-pointer on his first shot attempt of the evening.
The first half proved to be a game of streaks, as Utah countered the Sun Devil run with seven quick points to stretch its lead to eight points, but did not score for the final 1:24 in which Arizona State scored the final four points of the half. McKissic concluded play in the first half with a fade away jumper at the buzzer to make the score 41-37, in favor of the Utes, at halftime.
The Utes had the hot hand in the first half, shooting a 58.3 percent clip from the floor and 55.6 percent from beyond the arc. Arizona State struggled to find its shot early, but started to get shots to fall down the stretch, finishing the half at 48.1 percent shooting from the floor. Carson had a big first half for the Sun Devils, scoring 13 points to lead all scorers. McKissic followed with seven points, and Gilling notched five points and six assists. On the other end of the court, Loveridge led the Utes with 12 points in the first half.
Arizona State will host Colorado on Saturday at 5 p.m. MT on Pac-12 Networks and will honor former Sun Devil great Eddie House by hanging his No. 5 jersey in the rafters at Wells Fargo Arena.