For Arizona State basketball, a rash of costly mistakes, coupled with poor free throw shooting, have turned likely victories into painful losses of late.
Wednesday night’s 60-55 defeat at Utah was a perfect example of this worrisome trend for the Sun Devils.
Due to a haphazard first period of play, ASU found itself trailing 29-22 at halftime. A 17-4 run after the break gave the Sun Devils a 49-41 lead with just over seven minutes left in the game. The change in momentum was primarily fueled by senior wing Carrick Felix, who scored seven points during the drive, as well as guard Chris Colvin, who nailed a much-needed three-point bucket.
Freshman guard Jahii Carson also scored four points down the stretch to give his team a six-point advantage.
Then, things started to go awry for the Sun Devils.
Arizona State was guilty of several critical miscues late in the game. First, junior guard Evan Gordon rushed a 3-pointer, turning the ball over with under a minute to go. ASU fouls subsequently resulted in Utah center Jason Washburn and guard Jarred DuBois making shots from the charity stripe to secure the win.
Including eight free throws, the Utes hit their final 12 shots to overtake the Sun Devils.
ASU coach Herb Sendek voiced his frustration after the contest: “We just did a few things that didn’t make a whole lot of sense…we certainly didn’t finish the game the way we needed to.”
Sendek also noted the Sun Devils’ questionable shot selection against the Utes. “We took a couple shots that didn’t have the highest percentage for us,” he said.
ASU shot 40 percent on the evening, but, in a familiar storyline, struggled with free throws, hitting just 4 of 10.
Credit Utah for an inspired performance in front of 9,062 fans at the Jon M. Huntsman Center. Washburn had another strong outing against ASU (he accounted for 19 points and 18 rebounds when the two teams met in January), scoring 26 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Freshman guard Brandon Taylor added five key points in the game’s closing moments.
Losing for the second time in five days, the Sun Devils now stand at 18-7 and 7-5 in the Pac-12. They travel to Boulder, Colorado, on Saturday to face the Colorado Buffaloes in a matchup that will have a major impact on their NCAA Tournament prospects.