Following Wednesday’s loss to Colorado, ASU basketball bounced back with a road win over Utah, improving the Sun Devils to 17-8 (8-5 Pac-12).
The first time Arizona State and Utah played, it was a tale of two halves. In that game, ASU blew a halftime lead and lost by double digits.
Fast forward a month, and the Sun Devils got another chance at the troublesome Utes. Just like the first meeting, ASU was in front at the break.
This time, however, there was no going back.
The Sun Devils extended their five-point halftime advantage and won 98-87 Saturday at the Jon M. Huntsman Center. With the win, ASU improved to 17-8 (8-5 Pac-12) and avoided being swept this weekend.
Much of this win can be credited to Rob Edwards; He was electric. The redshirt junior finished with a team-high 28 points, his highest since arriving at Arizona State.
“I expected myself to go in,” Edwards said. “I told myself before the game last night. I played terribly the last game, so coach let me know in practice.”
This was steep improvement from his previous outing – ASU’s 77-73 loss to Colorado. In the loss, Edwards scored just four points on 1-of-7 shooting. He was much more efficient against the Utes, hitting nine of his 14 field-goal attempts.
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But the Sun Devils’ success went further than just Edwards. The team shot a 54 percent clip from the field and made 45 percent from beyond the arc.
“That was the best we’ve shot the three all season,” ASU coach Bobby Hurley said. “We shot it very well.”
In Utah and ASU’s first meeting, Sedrick Barefield was the Utes’ catalyst. He scored 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting.
The Sun Devils held their ground against the senior playmaker this time.
“He really had his way with us the first game,” Hurley said. “We did better with him, and certainly the fouls didn’t help with him not being on the floor as much.”
Barefield finished the game with four fouls, and his production dipped as a result of early foul trouble.
But the foul trouble wasn’t a one-sided dilemma: the referees sounded their whistles at the sight of any contact.
While that limited the minutes of Dort and other key players, it didn’t stop ASU from playing its game.
“We did really well responding to adversity,” ASU senior Zylan Cheatham said. “We try not to play timid and just keep playing our game and play smart.
“Hurley trusted us.”
In most of ASU’s 17 victories, rebounding has been at a premium. That was no exception Saturday.
ASU outrebounded Utah 35 to 29, and Cheatham led the way with 10. This helped ASU sustain its lead down the stretch.
“That’s a key component to all our wins,” Cheatham said. “When we crash the glass, we put ourself in a good position to be successful.”
Bounce-back wins have become a common occurrence for the Sun Devils. After seemingly devastating losses, the Sun Devils have consistently rebounded with quality wins.
“It just comes with the competitiveness of our locker room,” Cheatham said. “We don’t accept losing; we don’t accept not playing well.”
Over the last month or so, one word has embodied the Sun Devils’ tournament chances: precarious. Some have them in, some don’t.
But Hurley isn’t concerned about the fuss – he’s just letting his team do the talking.
“Our season will speak for itself,” Hurley said. “We’ve got a lot of quality wins.
“I’m focusing on getting better, and if we play like that, we can play almost anybody.”
All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.