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Feb 9, 2024 8:39 pm

Near-upset haunts Utah as it turns page, faces Arizona State

utah utes

Free throws are supposed to be free. They were anything but for Utah on Thursday night when they went 10 of 21 in a 105-99 Pac-12 triple-overtime loss to No. 8 Arizona, its first home defeat of the year.

The Utes will attempt to bounce back Saturday night in Salt Lake City when they host Arizona State in another Pac-12 contest.

“When you play a tight game like that against a really good team, we got to be able to seize the moment,” Utah coach Craig Smith said. “There’s so many things it can come down to. Certainly free-throw shooting was a disappointing thing.”

It prevented Utah (15-8, 6-6 Pac-12) from completing a comeback from a 41-25 halftime deficit. That foul shooting was the root cause of the loss wasn’t totally surprising; the Utes are 335th in Division I at 64.6 percent.

Wasted in the loss were a couple of great efforts — Branden Carlson’s 27 points and 15 rebounds, as well as a Deivon Smith triple-double of 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Carlson leads the team with 16.6 ppg and 6.8 rebounds.

Meanwhile, Arizona State (11-12, 5-7) continued its recent slump Thursday night with an 82-70 loss at Colorado. Since opening conference play at 5-2, the Sun Devils have lost five straight and will need a strong finish to earn any kind of postseason bid.

Frankie Collins scored 18 points to lead Arizona State, which made just 44.3 percent from the field and was buried at the foul line. Colorado made 12 more free throws (26) than the Sun Devils attempted (14).

Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley said the recent losing skid might be affecting his team’s psyche.

“It’s hard to gauge your self-confidence after it gets checked like that over the last couple of weeks,” he said. “We know we’re gonna have to play extremely well.”

The Sun Devils won the teams’ first meeting 82-70 on Jan. 4 in Tempe behind a season-high 26 points from Jose Perez.

–Field Level Media

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