It wasn’t too pretty, but an overtime win isn’t anything to complain about. In the desert on Thursday night, the University of Utah men’s basketball team (13-7 overall, 5-4 Pac-12) defeated No. 21 Arizona State (15-5 overall, 3-5 Pac-12) by the same score the Sun Devils defeated the Utes by three weeks ago, 80-77.
“We can be pretty good if we just scrap and claw and play hard,” said head coach Larry Krystkowiak on ESPN 700. “And we really did that from start to finish.”
The Runnin’ Utes were led by Sedrick Barefield who came off the bench. After a scoreless first half, he dropped 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field, 4-of-4 from behind the arc and 3-of-4 from the free throw line. Jayce Johnson, Tyler Rawson and Justin Bibbins all chipped in 15 points.
Rawson started the Utes scoring with back-to-back buckets, but Arizona State quickly pieced together a 13-3 run. Utah was struggling to stop the Sun Devils who were shooting 70 percent from the field compared to the Runnin’ Utes’ 38 percent. However, things changed when Johnson entered the game. He knocked down his first bucket of the night to put an end to ASU’s scoring streak and begin a 12-0 Utah run. He was responsible for seven of those points as he pushed the team ahead, 27-21.
Bibbins helped extend Utah’s lead by dropping four 3-pointers before halftime — all of his points on the night were from deep.
The Utes started the final 20 minutes of play up by seven points, but they had several moments where they were careless with the ball. They turned it over seven times, and allowed ASU to take the lead.
“That’s what fueled them, when we had some turnovers in the second half,” Krystkowiak said on ESPN 700. “They got out and ran, changed the game a little bit, but [we] made enough plays.”
Bibbins fouled out of the game when Utah was up by two points with 1:06 to play, and Utah’s lead soon slipped away. Parker Van Dyke committed a foul, and he turned a two-point ASU bucket into a three-point play. The Sun Devils took a 3-point lead with under 10 seconds to play.
The Runnin’ Utes were in need of a miracle.
“I had already talked to them in the previous timeout that if they [ASU] scored, we were going to get it and run a particular play and try to get it down the court as fast as we could without using a timeout,” Krystkowiak said on ESPN 700. “Once I realized we didn’t have a whole lot of pace like we were looking for to get that shot, I was trying to yell a timeout and then there up jumped Sedrick and shot it in. I’m just tickled that they don’t listen to me.”
Barefields’s 3-pointer with three seconds remaining sent the game to overtime.
Both teams went back-and-forth matching each other’s buckets for most of the five minutes. But after a Barefield shot from long distance, ASU put up its final point of the night. Barefield went on to hit a free throw in the final three seconds for the win.
“We tried to learn from the last game, we made some adjustments,” Barefield said on ESPN 700. “It’s definitely a confidence booster to win this, but at the same time, I think that it’s all about one game at a time — not getting too hot, not getting too low.”
Utah will next face No. 11 Arizona in Tucson on Saturday, Jan. 27, at 3:30 p.m.