(Photo courtesy: ASU Athletics/Steve Rodriguez)
It’s never a good sign when a coach substitutes 80 percent of his starting lineup out of the game with only three minutes elapsed from the clock.
However, that is what Herb Sendek did Sunday night and it was an indicator of the blowout to come in Arizona State’s (19-8, 8-6) 86-63 loss to the Utah Utes (18-9, 7-8).
Utah began Sunday’s game on a 28-10 run and by the time ASU exited the locker room for the second half of play the Sun Devils were preparing to try and erode the 51-26 deficit the Utes had erected.
No such deed took place.
Much of the reason for Utah’s efficient shooting early on in the matchup was its continuous penetration into the interior. This penetration was both incessant and helpful on numerous fronts. It clearly added points onto the scoreboard but it also put a number of Sun Devils into foul trouble.
Jahii Carson, Eric Jacobsen, Jermaine Marshall, and Shaquielle McKissic all finished the game with four fouls next to their names on the stat sheet.
McKissic led the team with 16 points and five rebounds. Both Bo Barnes and Egor Koulechov, who saw a drastic revival in minutes in this game, scored 11 points. The three players led a brief stint in the second half that looked like it might be ASU making its comeback run, but no such run occurred.
It was too little, far, far too late.
The Utes continued to live in the lane and keep their 20-point lead they nursed from the game’s inception.
The first half offensive explosion was catalyzed by the 58 percent the team shot from the field in the first half of play. ASU’s field goal shooting percentage of 26 percent certainly did not impede the Utes play either.
What did impede the Sun Devils’ play was Carson’s abysmal night from the field. The point guard only made 3 of 13 field goal attempts Sunday and finished with eight points.
Herb Sendek looked dejected, upset, and unamused as he exited the court.
Arizona State’s tournament chances are still latched on to their win over number two Arizona. However, sooner or later the team is going to have to realize there are still games on the schedule that have to be won.
ASU returns to Wells Fargo Arena Wednesday night to play the Stanford Cardinal. Tip is set for 9p.m. MT
This article has been modified to correct the percentage of the lineup that Sendek substituted out
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