(Photo: Noah Findling/WCSN)
It was a rough road trip for Arizona State. With a 86-63 loss to Utah at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, ASU now drops to 19-8 overall and 8-6 in the Pac-12.
After the upset win against Arizona last week in Tempe, Ariz., the Sun Devils took to the road, hoping to continue their winning ways against two tough teams in Colorado and Utah.
However, after losing to Colorado on Wednesday night and then on Sunday night against Utah, ASU appears to have lost any momentum it could have gotten from the dramatic double overtime win against the Wildcats.
With a poor effort on both sides of the court in the first half, ASU got down early as Utah went on a 28-10 run. Sophomore point guard Jahii Carson was a non-factor in the early goings, going scoreless until the 4:30 mark in the first half.
Carson, senior center Jordan Bachynski, and sophomore forward Eric Jacobsen all picked up two fouls early, with Jacobsen getting his second foul as early as 18:35 left in the first half.
With Jacobsen out of the lineup early, junior forward Jonathan Gilling got his minutes in off the bench, but failed to do anything, going scoreless in his nine minutes on the court.
Gilling has been both up and down for ASU throughout the season thus far. Going on his three-point streaks one game, to completely cold the next game, he is one of the many varying factors for this ASU squad.
Gilling is no doubt a great shooter, but his defense is one of those areas that can get him and the rest of the team in trouble. He is most likely replacing Jacobsen, which makes the ASU lineup smaller and loses the big post play and defensive presence that Jacobsen can give playing with Bachynski.
In terms of Carson, he finished the game with a mere eight points on 3 of 13 shooting from the field, compared to ASU and Utah’s first meeting of the year in January when Carson scored 23 points. Carson was 2 of 5 from the free throw line.
The first half was one of the worst for ASU this season, scoring only 26 points compared to Utah’s 51 points in the first frame.
Utah nearly doubled the amount of field goals ASU made in the first half, making 17 of 29 from the field compared to ASU’s 9 of 34 shooting from the field.
ASU was out rebounded for the second consecutive game, 44-36. In ASU’s six Pac-12 losses, the Sun Devils are being out rebounded by an average of 10.7 rebounds a game.
With ASU getting into foul trouble early during multiple games this season, especially on the big men of Bachynski and Jacobsen, rebounding has been an issue for this team.
Carson has had his share of contributions on the glass, collecting 12 rebounds and leading the team in rebounding against Oregon earlier this month but Carson can’t do it all.
Bachynski and Carson both scored a mere two points going into halftime. Freshman Egor Koulechov was the leading scorer for the Sun Devils with eight points. Senior forward Shaquielle McKissic scored seven points in the first half.
Koulechov played a decent amount of minutes earlier in the season, only to see them disappear to junior wing Bo Barnes over the past 6 games. For Koulechov to come out in the first half and produce the way he did was a major positive for ASU.
Koulechov even got the start over Jacobsen to start the second half.
However, with so many substitutions for ASU, it was hard for the team to ever get into a rhythm or any type of flow to try and put them back in the game.
Senior guard Jermaine Marshall, who was huge in the win against Arizona at home, wasn’t a factor in the first half at all. Going scoreless, he was 0 of 3 shooting from the field and didn’t get to the free throw line once.
Marshall picked it up a bit in the second half scoring seven points on 3 of 7 shooting, but still didn’t get to the free throw line once.
ASU has a great asset with Marshall, but if he can’t drive and be given the chance to make the hard earned, or acrobatic shot and get to the line, then Marshall isn’t contributing as much as his talents allow him to.
Furthermore, Marshall has made the outside shot time after time after time, but when he’s off, he’s off for a good amount of time. Marshall can quickly get his confidence back by driving to the basket and picking up the hard fought three-point play, but only if ASU recognizes this and dishes to Marshall early and gets him going.
ASU could have a great two-guard set with Carson and Marshall and then Bachynski in the center, but Carson will have to learn that teams in the Pac-12 know his eagerness to go right over his left.
Carson can’t always want to force the ball inside, sometimes he needs to realize he has to dish to the corner or another option.
Teams know Carson is dangerous when he’s on, so when other teams drag over an extra defender to Carson, Marshall or McKissic will have to take full advantage and carry the team.
Tournament hopes for ASU are far from gone as it still has four games left to play, two of them being the homestand against Stanford and Cal in the coming week.
ASU is still very much in the mix, but the next two games at home will be another test for the Sun Devils. They got it done last time it was at home, but coming off two road losses, ASU will be tested on their mental strength down the homestretch of the regular season.
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