Utah's cold-shooting continues in loss to Arizona State
Having the youngest team in the Pac-12 was guaranteed to come with some learning pains. Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak and his players knew this — but none could've imagined the tough times Utah has had over the previous two weeks.
After opening Pac-12 play with a victory over Oregon State, the Utes have now lost four straight — most recently an 83-64 defeat to Arizona State on Saturday night.
"I was pretty pleased with our defense early in the game," Krystkowiak said. "Our offense has just been atrocious. Individual players need to step up and we need to do a better job of sharing the ball."
Timmy Allen finished with a double-double of 18 points and10 rebounds, adding four assists, while Mikael Jantunen was the only other Ute in double figures with 10 points and five rebounds.
Apart from Allen, the rest of the starters combined for just 10 points as Both Gach and Rylan Jones, the second and third leading scorers on the team, combined for seven points on 1-of-11 shooting, 1-of-9 from beyond the arc.
“I think a lot of guys got a lot of stuff to figure out, which is normal, especially with a young team like ours,” Allen said. “We have a lot of discovering to do, and a lot more basketball to play. We have to have some honest talks amongst ourselves and figure it out.
Led by Jantunen, the reserves finished with 26 points.
Utah's offensive woes continued in the final game of their brutal seven-game stretch that featured four nationally-ranked opponents (No. 7 San Diego State, No. 8 Oregon, No. 10 Kentucky and No. 20 Colorado) and one team (Arizona) receiving votes. The Utes finished 22-for-56 (39.3-percent) from the floor and 6-for-24 (25-percent) from three-point territory, while committing 18 turnovers that led to 28 Sun Devil points.
“I know we need to do things collectively and play together.. There’s ebbs and flows in a season, and we’ve been guarded by some really good teams,” Krystkowiak said. “I thought it was a little bit self-inflicted tonight, you know, pressing, and we’ve got to get back to some practice. Right now, there’s just a heck of a lot of forcing that’s taking place. ... Guys are pressing and we’re a little bit out of whack.”
ASU's Rob Edwards finished with a game-high 24 points, knocking down 5-of-6 from beyond the arc, while Remy Martin added 20 points and six assists.
The first half was a back and forth affair, with Arizona State jumping out to an 8-10 point lead before the Utes would respond and get it back down to 3-5 points — eventually trailing 29-23 at the break.
Arizona State came out of the half on fire, reeling off a quick 10-2 run and forcing the Utes to play catch up from the start. But the young Utes responded with an 11-2 run to make it a five-point game with 12 minutes to play.
"We got down 16 and made some terrific basketball plays, shared the ball, hit a couple of open 3s and then kind of got back to that forced offense again," Krystkowiak said. "It just seems like we're grinding and trying to find an identity with what it is we're doing."
Arizona State responded with an 8-1 run, and the rout was on the rest of the game.
With the result all but decided, fireworks still erupted at the end of the game with Krystkowiak was ejected with 1:23 remaining in the game. Following a technical foul on 7-foot-4 center Matt Van Komen for hanging on the rim, Krystkowiak argued the call and immediately picked up two technical fouls.
"I saw a 7-foot-4 guy dunk the ball and somebody's underneath him and you're allowed to hang on the rim," Krystkowiak said. "It wasn't the proper call to make at that time. ... And lost my fuse."
Utah returns to home to host Washington on Thursday — tipoff is set for 7 p.m. fro the Huntsman Center and will be broadcasted on the Pac-12 Network.