Utah Men’s Basketball Lose Heartbreaker in Arizona


Jack Gambassi

University of Utah Men’s Basketball player Rollie Worster (#25) during the game vs. Abilene Christian on Nov. 9, 2021 at the Jon M. Huntsman Center on campus in Salt Lake City. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Eric Jensen, Sports Writer


On Monday evening, Arizona State’s Jalen Graham hit back-to-back shots in the lane to hand the University of Utah men’s basketball team their sixth loss in a row, 62-64.

Graham scored 12 points on the night against the Utes to sink their hopes in a close game. Kimani Lawrence lead the scoring for the Sun Devils with 18 points.

This has been the unfortunate story of the Utes season: immediate success, especially defensively, in the first half, but breakdowns in the second half have lead to crushing losses for this team led by Craig Smith.

The Utes also struggled shooting the ball, going an unimpressive 10-30 in the second half of the game. Lazar Stefanovic struggled especially, shooting only 2-11 from the field. Rollie Worster had a good shooting day for the Utes, going 5-8 and putting up 13 points.

The Utes’ leading scorer was David Jenkins Jr. who once again put up an impressive inside scoring performance with 14 points.

The Sun Devils struggled to get boards and were out-rebounded 38-45 on the night. Other than that, lacking defense paired with subpar shooting numbers is a recipe for tough losses for Utah.

The team played the Sun Devils tight for most of the game, though. It wasn’t until the final four minutes or so of the game that things really unraveled for the Utes.

“Our margin for error is relatively slim. We gave ourselves chances to win, but we couldn’t pull it off,” Smith said.

That margin of victory, however slight it was, unfortunately did not favor the Utes who in this one struggled mightily down the stretch. These are the kind of games the Utes will have in a growing and rebuilding season. The team will likely look different next year after transfers.

Next up for the Utes will be UCLA and USC, two of the best teams in the country over the past month, although USC is coming off their two first losses of the season earlier this week.

To compete in those games the Utes will need better nights from guard Both Gach, who despite making tangible progress over the past few games took a real step back against the Sun Devils, scoring just 8 points and turning the ball over twice.

The turnovers were kept to a minimum for the Utes as they only gave the ball up a respectable 14 times.

UCLA will come to the Jon M. Huntsman Center Thursday night at 9 p.m. MST. The game can be viewed on FS1 and heard on ESPN 700.

USC will then come to the Jon M. Huntsman Center at Saturday 4:30 p.m. The TV station has yet to be determined but you can hear the game on ESPN 700.


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