SALT LAKE CITY — In trying to put Utah’s recent run of success in perspective, senior guard Sedrick Barefield talked about the journey. His comments came after Thursday’s win over Arizona and before Saturday’s game against Arizona State.
“I think that it’s been a process for this team, a lot of lessons learned throughout the season,” Barefield said. “It’s been about putting 40 minutes together without having those lessons.”
If only it were that easy for the Utes, who had a three-game streak snapped by the Sun Devils with a 98-87 loss in the Huntsman Center. They led for only 38 seconds all game long, unable to capture any second-half magic that allowed them to rally from 17 points down and prevail (96-86) weeks earlier in Tempe.
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said the outcome in the latest meeting might have been decided early, quite early.
“As silly as it sounds the rebounding was such a big key for us and the first time they missed we had two guys fighting over the ball and it went out of bounds,” he noted. “First opportunity and it just kind of set the tone.”
By game’s end, the Utes were outrebounded 35-29 and were outscored 18-8 in second-chance points.
“Then we shot ourselves in the foot with two little stretches with mindless turnovers,” Krystkowiak added.
The Utes got off to a sluggish start. They missed four of their first five shots and turned the ball over three times in falling behind 11-2 less than four minutes into the game.
ASU went on to build a 33-20 lead before Utah climbed back into contention late in the half. The Utes used a 13-5 run to cut the deficit. Parker Van Dyke led the outburst with eight points. Barefield had the other five.
At 38-33, it marked the first of three occasions Utah would close the margin to five points over the final 4:52 of the half. The last time came on a basket by Barefield that made it 47-42 at the break.
The Utes drew no closer the rest of the way as the Sun Devils evened the season series between the teams.
“They played with tremendous energy,” Krystkowiak said. “They played harder than we did which is a shame.”
Krystkowiak credited the ASU with checking the boxes in regards to playing hard, playing smart and playing together.
Rob Edwards finished with a game-high 28 points, while Zylan Cheatham contributed 24. Luguentz Dort and Remy Martin chipped in 17 and 16, respectively.
Barefield, who became the 39th player in team history to reach 1,000 points in his career, and Van Dyke topped the Utes with 17 points apiece.
“I knew it was going to be a dogfight,” said Krystkowiak, who explained that it came down to a combination of things like 50/50 balls, loose balls and rebounds.
Key aspects, he explained, against a real athletic team like the Sun Devils.
“They played great, Krystkowiak said. “They were dialed in and the best team won tonight for sure.”39 comments on this story
ASU and Utah are now tied for third place in the Pac-12 at 8-5 in conference play, trailing Washington (11-1) and Oregon State (8-4).
The Utes face the Huskies Wednesday in Seattle. They’re at Washington State on Saturday and Colorado on March 2.
“We’ll be alright,” said center Jayce Johnson. “We’ll get back.”
EXTRA STUFF: The announced attendance was 12,585 . . . Utah has two home games remaining — USC on March 7 and UCLA on March 9 . . . Timmy Allen had 13 points and seven rebounds for the Utes . . . Utah’s bench outscored ASU by a margin of 41-7.