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ASU Basketball: Takeaways from No. 4 Sun Devils win over Utah

Sun Devils survive.

NCAA Basketball: Arizona State at Utah Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona State Sun Devils aren’t undefeated. They aren’t the third best team in the nation and certainly won’t be the fourth-ranked Sun Devils after Monday’s AP Poll is released.

Why? Pac-12 play is two weeks in. Welcome to reality.

No. 4 Arizona State (13-2, 1-2 Pac-12) slipped past Utah (10-5, 2-2) by a score of 80-77 Sunday night, sealing its first win in Salt Lake City since 1975.


ASU will NOT rule the Pac... not playing like this

At 1-2, the Sun Devils sit at ninth place in the Pac-12. It took two weeks to earn their first conference win. Three conference road games in a row? Yeah, it wasn’t easy.

In non conference play, ASU relied on its hot shooting, as it hadn’t shot below 40 percent once. In its last three games, the Sun Devils have shot a 39.6 percent clip with a season-worst 36 percent against Colorado. Teams have figured it out: Play zone against ASU. You’ll have success. Another nugget: Romello White, who averaged 13.7 points per game in pre-Pac-12 play, has scored just 15 in three conference games.

Colorado just went 2-0 against two top-15 teams, Stanford dropped 107 points in a win over UCLA and every team in the conference has a loss. Arizona and Arizona State won’t rule the Pac-12. It’s just too unpredictable.

Holy foul, that was an ugly win

It’s easy to blame referees. Too many calls were questionable against Arizona. After ASU’s loss to Colorado, head coach Bobby Hurley was reprimanded for comments on officials. But what the Sun Devils did against Utah was inexcusable. On Sunday, ASU had 31 fouls — a season worst.

The fouls hindered production from their bigs, as all three of them fouled out. White had just three points, while De’Quon Lake had four. Vitaliy Shibel didn’t score a point. Lake fouled out with nearly 10 minutes left to play.

Evans and Justice were the “it” factor

He needed reinforcements, and they finally came. Tra Holder dropped 31 points in a loss to Arizona and 25 in a Colorado defeat, while Kodi Justice and Shannon Evans averaged nine and 11 in two games, respectively.

Sunday wasn’t Holder’s day. He shot 3-for-10, scoring 11, but Evans and Justice combined for 42. Evans scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half, while Justice still managed to put up 20 after shooting 1-of-6 from beyond the arc.

A trio of senior guards isn’t as great as it sounds unless all three, or two at least, are hot. If there’s anything that must be consistent this season, it’s the play of all three of them.

ASU will fall in AP Poll, but how far?

No. 1 Michigan State fell at Ohio State by 16. No. 2 Duke fell at N.C. State. by 11. No. 4 ASU lost at Colorado in overtime by nine. No. 5 Xavier lost at Providence by nine. No. 7 Oklahoma lost at No. 6 West Virginia by 13. The rest of the top-15: North Carolina, Kansas, Texas Tech, Arizona and Miami all lost.

Ten of the top 15 teams lost this week. And yes, the Sun Devils lost on the road in overtime. That’ll help. But ASU lost to a team who has fallen to Colorado State, San Diego, Iowa and Oregon State. With a loss to a 10-6 Colorado team and an ugly win over Utah, the Sun Devils are in danger of dropping out of the top-10, a place they’ve sat for four weeks.