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Arizona State blown out on the road by Utah in Pac-12 finale

(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

An Arizona State men’s basketball season that began with promise ended with a whimper in a 98-59 loss in Salt Lake City on Saturday afternoon.

The Sun Devils, who started the 2020-21 season ranked No. 18 in the AP preseason poll, finished the year with a 10-13 record, ranking 8th in the Pac-12.

Saturday’s matinee saw the Sun Devils fall behind early, trailing the hometown Utes 41-28 at the half, before sputtering to a 39-point defeat.

It was a contest that saw senior guard Remy Martin wrap up his regular season run with an 8-point performance — his third-lowest total of the year.

It was a matinee that saw the Sun Devils get outmuscled on the offensive and defensive glass, with ASU getting outrebounded by a 42-30 sum.

It was the final contest of a season that saw the Sun Devils have three games postponed due to COVID-19 protocols, either within their own or their opponent’s program.

Above all, it was a bitter pill to swallow for head coach Bobby Hurley, who described his team’s effort on Sunday as disappointing.

The Sun Devils’ issues on Saturday included far more than their rebounding deficit, shooting a paltry 38.1% from the floor, while allowing Utah to shoot 58.5%.

Hurley said the team’s one-sided loss to the Utes was the end result of a multitude of issues, including giving up too many inside shots and not defending the paint well.

He also expressed disappointment at the way the team performed, given the fact that current associate head coach, Rashon Burno, gave a passionate speech to players in announcing his decision to accept the head coaching job at Northern Illinois University.

“There were very few guys that competed the way I think coach Burno deserved the team to compete today,” Hurley said. “And that was unfortunate, because coach Burno addressed the team last night and it was a very emotional moment.

“And for the team to be as flat as we played, it was a failure to not honor him in the last regular season game the way we needed to.”

Above all, Saturday’s regular season finale was anything but a Hollywood ending for players like Martin who have been around the program since Hurley’s early days in Tempe.

Hurley described Martin’s presence in the final week of games, in which he scored 14 points total against Colorado and Utah, as not being there.

“He hasn’t been in a good place the last few games. So, he hasn’t been in a good rhythm,” Hurley said of Martin. “So we have to find a way to get him more connected to the game and get him going. So that’ll be my job the next couple of games.”

The Sun Devils’ focus turns to the Pac-12 tournament, which kicks off with a likely rematch against the Utes at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

Hurley expressed hope that his team would rebound from Saturday’s one-sided defeat to the Utes, saying he has faith that Martin and his teammates can flip the script come Wednesday.

“[Remy] was on such a tear, with those eight straight 20-point games,” Hurley said. “Two subpar offensive games for him. But hey, he’s carried us through when things weren’t going great. And so, he’s entitled to not being at his best. But we’ll try to get him right headed into Vegas.”

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