Utes lose another close game, falling to #4 Arizona State, 80-77

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah men’s basketball team took the No. 4-ranked Arizona Sun Devils to the wire on Sunday, but the Runnin’ Utes came up short in an 80-77 loss at the Huntsman Center.

 “Hard fought game,” said head coach Larry Krystkowiak. “Basketball’s a game of mistakes. At the end of the day it comes down to probably taking a little bit better care of the ball. Not getting out-rebounded by a team that’s significantly smaller than us, in terms of what we can do differently next time. You know, it was a heck of a game.”

Justin Bibbins registered a game-high 22 points and junior Sedrick Barefield chipped in with 21 points, while ASU was led by Shannon Evans II’s 22-point effort and another 20 points from Kodi Justice on the evening.

Utah erased an 11-point first half deficit with a 16-4 run, that ended with dunk from David Collette, and gave the Utes its first lead of the game at the 4:49 mark of the first period. ASU regained the lead late in the period and led by five, up 35-30, with 1:34 to play in the half, but Utah countered with a three-pointer from Barefield and the Utes closed out the half on a 6-0 run to take a 36-35 lead into the locker room.

Despite ASU opening the second half on a 10-3 run and taking a six-point lead (45-39), Utah again managed to go on another run – this time a by a 15-8 margin – to regain the lead 54-43 at the 10:53 mark. Both teams would end up trading buckets and the game ended with the Sun Devils knocking down three of four free throws to earn the three-point win.

Utah and ASU were tied on 11 different occasions, which included four ties over the final 5:30 to play, and there were 18 different lead changes overall.

The loss drops Utah to 10-5 overall and 2-2 in Pac-12 play, while ASU improved to 13-2 on the season and 1-2 in the conference.

Utah will be back on the road next week taking on both Los Angeles-based squads. The Utes will open the week at UCLA next Thursday, Jan. 11 and will then close out the week taking on USC next Sunday, Jan. 14.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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