No. 8 Utah routs Arizona State to stay perfect in Pac-12 play
Sure, No. 8 Utah had three straight blowout Pac-12 victories at home. But would that domination travel? And could the Utes avoid looking ahead?
No problem, especially when you have Delon Wright and a stifling defense.
Wright scored 21 points and Utah never gave Arizona State a chance in a 76-59 victory Thursday night.
Next up for the surging Utes: a trip to No. 10 Arizona on Saturday.
"We’re going to have to be really good," coach Larry Krystkowiak said.
Play in Tucson like they have to start conference play and Utah might just shake up the league.
Jordan Loveridge added 14 points and eight rebounds and Brandon Taylor scored 13 points for the Utes (14-2, 4-0) in their first game in eight days. They shot 54 percent from the field and have won seven straight.
After routing Southern California by 24 points, UCLA by 32 and Colorado by 25, Utah showed no signs of letting up in its first conference road game. The Utes led by as many as 28 points to remain the lone unbeaten team in the conference.
"Last year we didn’t do a good job winning on the road," Wright said. "So we’re trying to have a new mentality this year."
Gerry Blakes scored 10 points and Savon Goodman had nine points and 10 rebounds before fouling out for the Sun Devils (8-9, 0-4). With Washington beating Oregon State on Thursday night, Arizona State is the only winless team in Pac-12 play.
Utah entered the night 2-2 away from home, but used its depth and superior defense to hand Arizona State only its second loss in 18 home games.
Wright did most of the damage. He hit just 4 of 11 shots from the field, but drew numerous fouls on drives and pump fakes. Wright hit all 12 free throws and added six assists.
"When you’re playing a team like Utah, you’d don’t have a lot of room for error," Sun Devils coach Herb Sendek said, "especially as efficient as they are on the offensive end."
Looking to spark a struggling offense, Sendek again tweaked his backcourt. Freshman Tra Holder started at point guard with Blakes moving to shooting guard. Freshman Kodi Justice, who started in Saturday’s loss to Oregon, came off the bench.
Holder’s penetration and Utah’s soft pick-and-roll defense early allowed Arizona State to be within 13-12 before the Utes found another gear.
Save for Goodman’s acrobatic one-handed, alley-oop dunk, the Utes smothered Arizona State in a half-ending 27-10 run. While the Sun Devils had trouble getting to the hoop, Utah shot 55 percent from the field, hit 4 of 6 3-pointers and all 12 free throws.
Utah, coming in ranked 10th in field-goal percentage defense, never let Arizona State back in it by holding the Sun Devils to 39 percent from the field.
It will get tougher on Saturday against Arizona, which has beaten Utah 10 straight times.
"It’s going to be a heck of a college environment," Kristkowiak said.
Utah: Guard Kenneth Ogbe (groin) made the trip, but remained sidelined. . The Utes had been 0-3 at Arizona State since joining the Pac-12.
Arizona State: It’s the school’s worst conference start since beginning 0-14 in Sendek’s first season in 2006-07. . Arizona State has been held under 60 points in five straight games. . Former Sun Devils center Jordan Bachynski watched his brother, Utah’s Dallin Bachynski, from the stands. Students shouted "Jordan’s better!" in the first half.
Utah: Saturday’s game at Arizona will be the first time Utah has played in a matchup of two Top 10 teams since losing to Kentucky in the 1998 title game.
Arizona State: Hosts Colorado on Saturday.