Thursday night’s Pac-12 conference season opener ended with ASU basketball finally falling into place alongside the rest of the confounding conference
Head Coach Bobby Hurley’s Sun Devils fell for the fourth time in the past six games, and for the second game in a row, the team vacated the floor with heads down and frustration at an all-time high.
In demoralizing and head-scratching fashion, Arizona State failed at effectively covering the three-point line. The ‘Runnin’ Utes lived up to their moniker by shooting a white-hot 53 percent from beyond the arch on 16 makes.
Their offensive explosion resulted not only in 96 points scored, but it shined a spotlight on ASU’s lackluster perimeter protection. Their inability to identify and lock down the shooters was apparent in the fact that only four Utah players hit a three on the nights.
Tillman scored 22 points on 6-of-8 from downtown, all of which were catch and shoot and uncontested. Senior guard Sedrick Barefield only complicated ASU’s counter attack as he lit up the gym for 24 points on 8-for-15 shooting and led the offense masterfully.
Utah spread the Devils out and moved the ball to the tune of 19 assists, the highest tally an opponent has had this season.
Further problems were revealed for ASU as Kimani Lawrence and Taeshon Cherry have essentially become non-factors on both ends of the floor. Tonight the young duo combined for just seven points on 2-of-13 shooting.
In what has become way too routine for the Sun Devils, the team also fell apart at the free-throw line. This time the Devils shot just 15-of-25 from the floor and missed out on countless opportunities after misses on 1-and-1 scenarios.
With last year’s Pac-12 cataclysmic conference season still fresh in the minds of ASU fans, this loss invokes similar feelings. The Sun Devils will have an opportunity to bounce back this coming Saturday against the Colorado Buffaloes in Tempe.