Runnin’ Utes Comeback Hopes Dashed Again in Nail-Biter Against Arizona State


Jack Gambassi

Utah basketball’s Marco Anthony (#10) in the matchup against the UCLA Bruins at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ethan Pearce, Sports Editor


Utah built an early advantage by feasting in the midrange. Arizona State was allowing them to take that shot, so Marco Anthony and Rollie Worster made them pay. Lazar Stefanovic hit a nasty crossover, dropped his man and drilled a three to get the crowd on its feet.

The game went back and forth for the remainder of the first half, with neither team taking a significant lead. The largest amount of separation between the two teams was four points, and ASU took a 33-30 lead into the break. It was a close game between two tightly matched opponents. Anthony led the way for Utah with 11 points in the first half.

Utah struggled to open the second half, allowing the Sun Devils to build a double-digit lead. The Utes hung in there, and made a push with a pair of threes from David Jenkins Jr. and Gabe Madsen. The offense settled in and got them some open looks, putting the Utes right back in the game.

Arizona State’s Jay Heath silenced the crowd with back-to-back threes to calm things down for the Sun Devils. The lead was 13 with seven minutes to play.

Utah clawed their way back into it yet again with a few buckets from Anthony, but they still needed a lot to go their way to pull this one off. The Utes ramped up their pressure and the defense forced ASU into some bad shots, giving them a fighting chance.

A pair of free throws from Worster cut the lead to just three with two minutes to play. A three pointer from Branden Carlson tied the game with 1:04 to play following a missed free throw from Heath. It was a 14-1 run over the course of six minutes to tie the game up for Utah. A bucket on each side put it at 61-61 with the shot clock turned off, Arizona State’s ball.

Marreon Jackson was the hero for the Sun Devils, hitting a tough driving layup to put them ahead by two. Worster’s floater at the buzzer rolled out, securing the win for Arizona State, 63-61. 

“All five guys gotta be able to be on the same page to be good, on both ends of the floor. You’ve gotta play connected in basketball,” said head coach Craig Smith. “There’s ebb and flow, and there’s trust, and you gotta share the ball.” It was a tough, hard fought loss for Utah after an improbable comeback that gave them a chance. That’s happened quite a few times this year, including the last time these two teams met, and this is just the latest heartbreaking loss of the season. The Utes have just one more game this regular season, at home against Colorado next Saturday. Then, they’ll head to the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas.

“Gotta roll our sleeves up and get back to work,” Smith said. “We have a full week here and we’re gonna use this week to practice, and get better, and we’ve gotta finish this thing out right.”


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