ASU men’s basketball doomed by bad first half in 86-63 loss at Utah

It’s been six days since the ASU men’s basketball team started its Rocky Mountain road trip.

Somewhere in that span, the Sun Devils (19-8, 8-6 Pac-12) mentally disappeared.

ASU dug itself in a 25-point hole in the first half and lost to Utah 86-63 on Sunday night, coming up empty on its two-game road trip in Utah and Colorado.

 

 

The Sun Devils looked lost from the beginning. ASU senior forward Shaquielle McKissic scored the first basket of the game, but then the Utes (18-9, 7-8 Pac-12) erupted on a 35-9 run.

ASU struggled to find rhythm on offense and sparingly fought for loose balls. In the middle of the first half, ASU coach Herb Sendek pulled all five starters from the game, which was a move that was likely made to challenge their lack of energy.

The Sun Devils shot a horrid 9-of-14 from the field and went 4-of-14 from the 3-point line in the first half.

ASU came out of halftime with slightly more effort and went on an 8-0 run to cut the deficit down to 13 points with 10:22 remaining, but Utah broke out on an 18-5 run to put the game out of reach for the rest of the night.

Utah blocked ASU 12 times – the most the Sun Devils have been rejected in one game this season.

The Utes, who lost the rebounding battle to the Sun Devils in the first meeting back on Jan. 23, outrebounded ASU 44-36 and shot 53.8 percent from the field.

Despite the large scoring margin, Utah committed 15 turnovers to the Sun Devils’ 13.

Utah junior forward Delon Wright led all scorers with 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting and also had nine rebounds and nine assists. Senior forward Jordan Loveridge tallied 18 points and six boards for the Utes.

Redshirt sophomore point guard Jahii Carson, senior guard Jermaine Marshall and senior center Jordan Bachynski combined for only 15 points. McKissic finished the game with 16 points while redshirt junior guard Bo Barnes and freshman forward Egor Koulechov each added 11 points off the bench.

After upsetting then-No. 2 UA on Feb. 14, the Sun Devils have gone on to lose two straight, putting ASU’s NCAA Tournament hopes to a qualm with four games left in the regular season.

The Sun Devils host Stanford Wednesday and California Saturday before facing the Oregon schools on the road next week.

Reach the reporter at jnacion@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @Josh_Nacion