The Sun Devils faced an aggressive Utah team from the start as the Utes ran an early 11-2 lead. ASU finally found a familiar groove after a game tying three-point shot from senior guard Torian Graham. The Sun Devils went unanswered for 12 points shortly after.
Unfortunately, the Sun Devils’ momentum left as quickly as it came midway into the first half, ultimately finishing the half with a slim three-point lead. The Utes managed to wear down the Sun Devils less than 10 minutes into the half with hot shooting, going 69% from the field and 62% from beyond the arc.
ASU needs to find momentum earlier into the game and needs to keep the energy up especially against high scoring teams like the Utes.
ASU needs more from the front court
It’s been said time and time before that ASU’s lack of experience in the front court will be their glaring weakness; however, junior forward Obinna Oleka has taken the designated big-man role in the Sun Devils’ front court. But with the high risk of foul trouble in the paint, Bobby Hurley’s small ball offense will need to see more reps from front court reserves like freshmen Ramon Vila and Jethro Tshisumpa.
With Oleka’s dominance under the basket, recording 13 rebounds against the Utes, the Sun Devils blatantly suffer in the paint when the designated big-man is off the floor. ASU will need to utilize reserves like Vila and Tshisumpa, not only for them to gain reps and experience, but to make sure that ASU still has a defensive presence in the front court.
With ASU winning the turnover battle, only conceding 10 to Utah’s 15, the Sun Devils need to put up points and capitalize on the turnovers. Against good shooting teams like Utah, ASU needs to take advantage of mistakes, especially when the shooting game falls short for the Sun Devils. ASU only scored 20 points off of 15 turnovers while the Utes scored 15 points off of ASU’s 10 turnovers.
It’s one thing for the Sun Devils to win the turnover battle, it’s another to make it a threat to the opposing team.
The Sun Devils will bring the game back on the road as they face the University of Arizona in Tuscon on Thursday, January 12.