TEMPE, Ariz. — Maybe not a must-win, but a much-needed win for ASU.
“Every game is a must-win game,” Jordan Bachynski said.
Okay, I stand corrected. It was a must win.
After back-to-back road losses to UCLA and rival UA, the Sun Devils rallied to defeat Utah, 79-75 at Wells Fargo Arena Thursday.
Returning home agreed with sophomore Jahii Carson. He scored 23 points. It was his second straight 20-point performance and sixth overall this season.
Bachynski fouled out, but not before he recorded his 10th double-double of the season (11 points, 12 rebounds). He added four blocks and took two charges. “Should’ve been three,” he said.
The win improved the Sun Devils to 3-3 in the Pac-12 and 14-5 overall.
Jonathan Gilling, who came off the bench for the first time this season (Eric Jacobsen got the start, the second of his career), did not miss a shot, going 5-of-5, including 3-of-3 from three for 13 points. He had a team-high six assists, all in the first half.
Bo Barnes sparked the second half comeback with five points, part of a 19-7 run that put the Sun Devils up, 58-52. He finished with nine points and has now scored 21 in his past two games, after recording only five points in his first nine games played.
The Sun Devils improved to 10-1 at home.
While he was back in the starting lineup after missing the UA game because of a groin injury, Jermaine Marshall struggled in his 27 minutes of playing time. He missed all four of his shot attempts, though he was 4-of-5 from the free throw line.
“He said he was fine,” head coach Herb Sendek said. “I just never felt he was fluid or moving well. He never got in sync.”
Utah jumped out to an early lead, hitting 10 of it first 14 shots, including 5-of-7 from three. The Utes entered the game making only 29.2 percent of their threes in conference play.
STAT OF THE GAME
The Sun Devils made 13-of-18 free throws in the second half and were 21-of-31 for the game. The 21 made foul shots were two more than Utah attempted the entire game.
HE SAID IT
“We’re competitors, but we’re not dirty,” Bachynski said of competing against his brother, Dallin. “Last night, he came over to my house. We played some video games. It’s just another day. And then we came and battled against each other today and we battled hard. He battled hard. He’s a great player and scores well, but I mean I won. Sorry, we won. I won the battle between us and then we won.”
– Carson is three points shy of 1,000 for his Sun Devil career.
– Quite a Suns presence at the game. GM Ryan McDonough sat courtside while players Marcus and Markieff Morris and Dionte Christmas enjoyed the vantage point from the baseline.
The Sun Devils host Colorado on Saturday, January 25. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. MST with pregame coverage beginning 30 minutes earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
The pregame coverage will include the school honoring Eddie House, putting his No. 5 jersey up in the rafters at Wells Fargo Arena. House is the Sun Devils’ all-time leading scorer, was the 1999-2000 Pac-10 Player of the Year and a 2008 NBA World Champion with the Boston Celtics.