We placed a lot of emphasis on defense and a funny thing happened when we really did a good job defending them. —Ute coach Larry Krystkowiak
SALT LAKE CITY — After Utah's 21-point victory over Arizona State Saturday afternoon, it was only natural to talk about the outstanding shooting of Cedric Martin and Chris Hines, who were a combined 9 of 15 from 3-point range and the overall fine play of freshman point guard Kareem Storey, who had 12 points, six assists and only one turnover.
What a lot of folks overlooked, however, was the excellent defense the Utes played in holding the Sun Devils to a season-low 43 points on just 38.6 percent shooting and coming up with seven steals.
"It started on the defensive end," said Ute center Jason Washburn. "I think it was our most complete game on the defensive end. It was a great team effort by everybody. Coach tells us all the time if you make good plays defensively, the rim seems to open up and it seems like you can throw anything in."
That's how it looked from the start of the game, as the Utes kept ASU from scoring on their first five possessions of the game. Meanwhile, at the other end, the Utes were throwing everything in the basket as they burst out to a 12-0 lead.
The same thing happened at the start of the second half when the Utes kept the Sun Devils from scoring for the first eight minutes as they hit 11 straight points and took a 28-point lead.
Ute coach Larry Krystkowiak said afterwards that the Utes' great shooting could be attributed to their strong defense at the start of each half.
"We placed a lot of emphasis on defense and a funny thing happened when we really did a good job defending them," Krystkowiak said. "When we took away their options, the rim became about three times bigger than it has been recently for us."
The Sun Devils only managed 20 percent from 3-point range on 3 of 15.
UTE RECRUIT ROOTS: Ute recruit Dallin Bachynski watched Saturday's game with mixed emotions.
Bachynski is a 7-footer from Calgary, who signed to play with the Utes last fall after a year at Southern Utah and an LDS mission.
However, his older brother, Jordan, is a center for Arizona State. So what did he do Saturday?
"Today I was rooting for the Utes and my brother," he said. "So if my brother did well, I cheered and if the Utes did well I cheered."
After the game, Bachynski was smiling at the Utes' 21-point victory, but also because his brother had a good game. Jordan Bachynski was one of the few bright spots for the Sun Devils as he scored 10 points, had a team-high seven rebounds and blocked four Ute shots.
Dallin Bachynski is not going to school right now, but will be eligible to play for Utah next fall. He completed a mission to Croatia, while his older brother went to Florida.
GAME NOTES: The Utes tied their second-highest assist total of the year with 15. Storey led the way with six, while Martin had four. … Utah had its best 3-point shooting game of the year at 52.9 percent and its nine 3-pointers was the second-highest of the season in a game. … The Utes played just seven players, with four playing at least 34 minutes. … Utah won the rebound battle 29-24. … Arizona State coach Herb Sendek has 348 career victories as a Division I coach and has more former assistant coaches as current Division I coaches (nine) than any other coach in the nation. … Four players from the 1944 NCAA championship team were on hand to sign copies of the new book "The Blitz Kids". … The Utes will play Arizona State in Tempe on Feb. 9.