ASU men's basketball outlasts Utah to get first conference win of the season

Senior guard Shannon Evans II buried five three pointers to give the Sun Devils the edge

After starting conference play with two consecutive losses, ASU men’s basketball aimed to win in Salt Lake City, Utah for the first time since 1975 and ultimately pulled out the 80-77 win.

In the first quarter, the Sun Devils wasted little time and bolted out to an 8-0 lead. 

Senior guard Shannon Evans II, who went 0-14 from three-point range in his last two games, knocked down the game’s first points from behind the arc. 

However, a quick start was soon followed by the Utes rallying to cut the ASU lead to 17-8 with 11:44 left in the first half. 

Senior guard Kodi Justice managed to quiet the Utah crowd with back-to-back steals and easy buckets. 

At the halfway point in the first half, ASU outrebounded the Utes 14-5. Despite the advantage on the glass, the Sun Devils’ offensive fire soon fizzled out. 

ASU connected on just two of its six field goal attempts since the 10:44 mark in the first half.

Utah senior guard Justin Bibbins made his second basket of the game, cutting the Sun Devils’ lead down to four with 6:23 remaining in the first half. 

With redshirt freshman forward Romello White on the bench with two fouls, ASU struggled to pull away from the seventh-highest scoring team in the Pac-12.  

The Sun Devils went to half down 36-35 after a first half full of fouls (14) and turnovers (eight). 

Senior guard Tra Holder kicked off the second half by burying his first three-pointer of the game.

Not long after, Holder headed to the line, where he connected on three free throws to add to ASU's 8-0 run.

Utah’s offense again derailed the Sun Devils’ ability to pull away. The Utes brought ASU back into foul trouble with White and junior forward De’Quon Lake back on the bench with four fouls each. 

Even with ASU’s most efficient big men off the court, the Sun Devils led 50-44 with 13:10 left in the game. 

Just as it felt as if ASU would take command, the Utes took a 56-55 lead on the back of two free throws from junior guard Sedrick Barefield.

If that wasn’t enough, Lake fouled out with 9:57 remaining in the game.

However, just minutes after, Evans II drilled his third three pointer of the game to push ASU to a 63-61 lead with 7:01 left in the game. It was the 16th lead change of the game.

The tug of war carried on with Utah climbing to a 66-65 lead. Not to mention, White soon mimicked Lake and fouled out with 5:47 to play. 

Evans II downed two more three-pointers in a span of two minutes, and ASU led 73-72 with 3:20 left in the game. 

As time began ticking down, the Sun Devils and the Utes were tied at 77, but sophomore forward Mickey Mitchell calmly secured the win for ASU with two made free throws as 21 seconds remained in regulation. 

The Sun Devils broke their losing streak and defeated the Utes 80-77. 

ASU will be back in Tempe on Thursday, Jan. 11 to take on the Oregon Ducks. Tipoff is set for 8:00 pm MST.


Reach the reporter at atotri@asu.edu or follow @Anthony_Totri on Twitter.   

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