Protecting your home court is so important in college basketball. It’s even more important when you are Arizona State and are trying to take another positive step forward. The Sun Devils came into their game with the Utah Utes with a chance to get a rare sweep at home.
“It was a tale of two halves defensively for us. 42% in the first half, 70% in the second half.” Coach Hurley explained.
Coming into this game with Utah, the Sun Devils had some confidence. They beat Colorado on Thursday night. They shot the ball well from the three point line, played tough defense, and showed some of that Bobby Hurley grit.
The Sun Devils still did play tough against the Utes, but the good shooting from the three point stripe didn’t follow them onto the court on Saturday. For the game the Sun Devils shot 29% from the three point line. Not good enough to win games for them.
Arizona State has to shoot well from the field more than most teams because of their lack of size on the interior. The only player that gives the Sun Devils any inside scoring presence is Obinna Oleka. The two other big men that Arizona State has are freshman and give the Devils no scoring punch at all.
Utah is a team that will mix it up in terms of looks on the court. The Utes changed up the defensive sets on the Sun Devils constantly. Utah would go zone, then change to man defense, and then even change it up during a possession. The Utes wanted to confuse the Sun Devils as much as possible. It worked.
Offensively, the Utes like to run the high-low offensive set and it worked beautifully. With the size that Utah had on the Sun Devils it led to easy baskets.
The Sun Devils tried to create some points off pressing the Utes, but that only led to easy baskets for Utah. Everything for the Utes was at the rim for them in the second half.
One of the big bright spots for Utah was the play of Kyle Kuzma. This 6’9”, junior forward, is special. He showed an all-around game on Saturday afternoon that was impressive. He had 26 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, and two blocks in 36 minutes of action. I saw a player that looks like he would do well at the next level.
Utah has good size and has plenty of players who can handle the ball. To me this is a typical Utah team. The Utes are well coached by Larry Krystowiak, play solid defense, have players that can play different positions, and can pose many match-up problems for the rest of teams that they face.
Arizona State has to regroup because they are traveling down to Tucson to take on their rival in the Arizona Wildcats. Until head coach Bobby Hurley can develop the big men they have and then recruit some impact big men, it’s going to be a struggle for the Sun Devils. The Devils have to shoot well to win. For the Sun Devils it is about size right now and they just do not have it like other teams do. This issue needs to remedied, so the next step for the program can be taken.