(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)
Despite a valiant late-game surge, the Arizona State Sun Devils fell to Utah 88-82 at home in Tempe.
Size was once again a major issue for ASU (9-8), as they faced a Utah team with a plethora of skilled big men.
Utah junior forward Kyle Kuzma was absolutely dominant all night long. Kuzma scored a career-high 26 points, with 19 of them coming in the second half, as that was a huge part of Utah’s 54 second-half points. Kuzma made 11 of his 17 shots from the field and was 3 of 4 from beyond the arc.
The Utes (11-4) were getting easy looks all night en route to a 55 percent shooting performance. They hit 8 of their 16 attempted 3’s, and four different players scored at least 15 points in the game.
Despite the Utes run in the second half, the Sun Devils did not go away quietly, as two Tra Holder free-throws and an Obinna Oleka dunk pulled ASU within 82-80 with 38 seconds left.
However, Utah’s five made free throws by Lorenzo Bonam and JoJo Zamora were just too much to overcome, and a block by Kuzma ended the game on a defining note.
ASU played well offensively, with four Sun Devils scoring at least 15 points to match Utah. Junior guard Shannon Evans II led the way with 21 points, but the Sun Devils defense was too lackluster to muster a comeback.
ASU was once again outrebounded, despite Oleka’s 13 boards, 40-30, as continues the trend on the glass that the Sun Devils have exhibited all season.
ASU will face another tough test on January 12 as they go on the road to Tucson, to face off against heated rival, number 17 Arizona. The game will be on at 7 p.m. on ESPN 2.