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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Utah Men’s Basketball Falls at Home to Arizona State

With just one day of rest, the Utes struggled to keep up with the high-tempo Sun Devil offense, giving up too many easy looks at the basket.
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Xiangyao Tang
Utah guard Deivon Smith (5) shoots versus the Arizona Wildcats at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. (Photo by Xiangyao “Axe” Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

The Utah men’s basketball team (15-9, 6-7 Pac-12) came into this game just two days after a crushing triple overtime loss to Arizona. The Utes looked to bounce back against Arizona State, taking a 42-40 lead into halftime. But the Sun Devils offense was too much for Utah to handle in the second half as they were able to run away with this one late, handing Utah their second straight home loss, 85-77.

First Half

The entire first half was a back-and-forth affair as both teams combined for eight lead changes. At the 10:44 mark in the first half, a Branden Carlson layup would put Utah up 6, but the Sun Devils’ tenacious defense and excellent three-point shooting helped them claw their way back to keep this game competitive. Carlson’s stellar play continued as he seemingly couldn’t miss throughout the first half. Ben Carlson continued to show up when he was needed, knocking down two first-half three-pointers, one of which put the Utes up 2 with 2:46 left in the half. Utah would eventually hold a 42-40 lead heading into halftime, with plenty of work to do to come away with a win.

The first half was highly competitive, as both teams shot very efficiently from the field. Utah shot an astounding 57% from the field, but the nine turnovers Arizona State was able to force kept them in this game as the Utes held just a two-point lead heading into halftime.

Carlson was exceptional in the first half, putting up 15 points and grabbing 7 rebounds to lead both teams in scoring. Cole Bajema was able to get it going offensively, as he scored eight early points to help pace the Utah backcourt. The scoring flurry for Utah would need to continue in the second half to put away a resilient Arizona State squad.

Second Half

The second half continued to see both teams exchange baskets, but late in the half, Arizona State took a commanding 10-point lead with just 8:04 left to go. The Utes would continue to fight their way back, cutting the lead to 4 points thanks to a Cole Bajema three-pointer with 2:48 left in the game. Unfortunately for Utah, Arizona State would make enough plays and knock down their free throws down the stretch to come away with an 85-77 win.

Utah’s defense struggled throughout this game, coming off of their trip overtime loss to Arizona. With just one day of rest, the Utes struggled to keep up with the high-tempo Sun Devil offense and subsequently gave up too many easy looks at the basket.

Utes Stuffing the Stat Sheet

Carlson led the Utes in scoring and rebounding, putting up 25 points and adding 12 boards. Bajema scored 12 points on efficient shooting, while Gabe Madsen followed close behind with 11. Keita continued to play well as a starter, scoring 10 points and grabbing 7 rebounds. Free throw shooting continued to plague Utah as they went just 6-13 from the line, which would end up being the difference in this game.

What’s Next for the Utes?

Utah will head to Southern California to take on the USC Trojans on Feb. 15th at 9:00 p.m. MST. The Utes look to pick up their first road conference win of the season against a struggling Trojan team that has lost seven of their last eight games. Catch all the action on Fox Sports 1 this coming Thursday.

 

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@Kylegarr23

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About the Contributors
Kyle Garrison, Sports Writer
Kyle garrison grew up in Spring Lake, Michigan. He moved to Salt Lake City to pursue a degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism. Kyle plans on pursuing broadcast journalism as a career once graduating from the University of Utah. Kyle started with the Chronicle this fall and has loved every minute of working with the team.
Xiangyao Tang, Photo Director
Axe is a photographer and the photo director of the Daily Utah Chronicle. He is from China and is a senior majoring in computer science and minoring in digital photography. Axe joined the Chronicle in August of 2021. In addition to his position at the Chrony, he is also a photo intern for University of Utah Athletics. When he's not writing code, you will find him rock climbing, camping, skiing or hiking with his camera.

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