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ASU assistant: ‘That’s the worst offensive half I’ve seen this year’

Utah forward Jakob Poeltl (42) blocks the shot of Arizona State forward Willie Atwood (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/George Frey)

If you happened to watch Arizona State’s road game at Utah last season, you saw one of the most lopsided games in recent ASU history.

The Utes jumped out to a 41-9 halftime lead on their way to an 83-41 win at the Huntsman Center.

Then-head coach Herb Sendek didn’t have much of an explanation for his team’s performance.

“There’s not a whole lot to say. Utah was just tremendous in every facet of the game. There’s not a whole lot of value in trying to dissect it any more than that at this point,” Sendek said at the time. “Obviously a poor performance by our team and an outstanding performance by the other team.”

Now if you happened to flip on the Pac-12 Network around 7:00 last night, you might have thought they were replaying last year’s game for some reason. Unfortunately for Bobby Hurley’s Sun Devils, they weren’t.

Utah got five three-pointers in the game’s first 3:10 — all by Jordan Loveridge and Brandon Taylor — and the Utes had a 15-0 lead before you could blink an eye. It would get worse.

The Utes destroyed the Sun Devils 81-46, dropping Arizona State to 14-14 on the season.

The Devils just look discombobulated from the get-go. ASU shot 14.3 percent from the field (4-of-28) in the first half and missed all nine of its three-point attempts. Utah also blocked six shots in the first 20 minutes of the game.

“Our biggest problem in the first half was definitely our offense,” assistant coach Levi Watkins said on the postgame show on the Sun Devil Radio Network. “They don’t really turn teams over and they scored 21 points in the first half off of our turnovers and blocked a number of our shots.”

ASU commmitted 12 turnovers in the half, including eight by struggling point guard Tra Holder. Three of Utah’s game-starting five treys came courtesy of Sun Devil miscues with the ball.

“That’s probably, by far, the worst offensive half I’ve seen this year for us, so it definitely put us in a big hole there in the first half,” Watkins said.

Arizona State did play better in the second half, getting outscored 37-36, but Watkins wasn’t taking too much pride in an effort that was too little, too late.

“The second half, we did play better, but they rested a number of our key guys, so we’re not going to look too much into that,” he said. “We’ve just got to learn from this. We’ll watch the film and get ready for a very good Colorado team that just beat Arizona.”

The Sun Devils visit the Buffaloes Sunday afternoon at the Coors Event Center in Boulder. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. and you can hear all the action on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, beginning with pregame coverage at 2:00 p.m.

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