AP
Utah guard Sedrick Barefield (2) drives as Arizona State's Luguentz Dort defends during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

TEMPE, Ariz. — After three games coming off the bench, Sedrick Barefield started for the Utah Utes. He finished with a game-high 24 points in a 96-86 come-from-behind victory at Arizona State. The senior also topped the team with six assists.

“That just goes to my teammates,” Barefield said. “They played extremely well tonight.”

Trust was a factor, he explained, as were adjustments made by the coaches.

“Man, it was just a lot of fun,” Barefield said after the Utes rallied from a 17-point deficit to prevail.

Following three games in reserve, including a 33-point performance in a loss to national powerhouse Nevada, Barefield was inserted back into the starting lineup in the Pac-12 opener. He began the season with nine straight starts.

Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak explained that starter Both Gach sprained his ankle on Monday and didn’t practice all week. The decision then was to go with “a little more veteran mentality” against ASU, and Barefield was called into duty to start the game.

Barefield acknowledged that people keep asking him about starting, and he insists it’s something he doesn’t really care about.

“I’m about this team. I’ll do whatever it is to help this team — whether it’s wave a towel, whether it’s get somebody some water, or put some points on the board,” Barefield said. “Whatever it is, I love this team and I love being a Ute.”

NOT FOR THE GIPPER: The Utes didn’t have one of those special moments to turn the tide, just the knowledge that Vanderbilt defeated ASU 81-65 on Dec. 17 after wiping out a double-digit deficit.

“Nothing Knute Rockne. Nothing motivating,” Krystkowiak said. “But just the reminder that it can be done.”

1 comment on this story

FROM THE OTHER SIDE: ASU coach Bobby Hurley joked that if the game would have ended after 12 minutes, it would have been great for the Sun Devils. He said it was “frustrating because it was a game that we had control of and we allowed them to cut the lead to four at the half and it snowballed from there.”

EXTRA STUFF: Utah takes on Arizona Saturday (noon, P12N) at the McKale Center in Tucson. … The Utes are now 4-4 in Pac-12 openers. … It was a homecoming for Utah freshman Timmy Allen. The former Phoenix-area prep star finished with 17 points and made seven of the eight free throws he attempted.