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JP: ASU avoids Pac-12 slip up

Utes failed to upset Pac-12 pecking order.

Utah climbed back from a 17-point deficit in the first meeting. The second? Arizona State carried nearly wire-to-wire. The Runnin’ Utes’ new lineup featuring an emboldened and confident Parker Van Dyke couldn’t carry Utah past ASU, falling 98-87 at the Huntsman Center on Saturday night.

Sigh, no drama. Utah’s opportunity to muck up the Pac-12 standings. As it stands, the Utes claim 3rd with the Devils at 8-5. Threatening to the pundits who picked Larry Krystkowiak’s club to finish eighth, but banal to one of the league’s top dogs.

The sigh? It came from the Pac-12 offices in San Francisco. After all, Chris Hill didn’t accost a conference suit. The conference’s second-best bet to make the NCAA Tournament avoids one of the few banana peels left on the schedule. Oregon State on March 3rd appears to be the only major test left.

It’d be a crime for Lug Dort and Zylan Cheathem to be denied March Madness. The two combined for 41 points and 15 rebounds.  When the lead fell to 9 late, Remy Martin drove to rack to extend it to double-digits.

Oh, and Rob Edwards provided a team-leading 28. He’s the fourth-leading scorer.

Two of the Pac-12’s three wins against Top-25 opponents come from ASU. The Sun Devils beat #15 Mississippi State and #1 Kansas and lost to Princeton and Stanford. Bobby Hurley knows in conference losses won’t be respected.

KenPom ranks the Pac-12 7th in “Adjusted Efficiency Margin” below the American Athletic and Big East. ESPN’s bracketologist Joe Lunardi projects the Sun Devils in his last four in (same as last year). A non-Washington or Arizona State Vegas winner in March could steal a bid from Hurley & Co.

Utah can still dent Washington’s tournament resume on Wednesday in Seattle. Not sure anyone in San Francisco wants that.


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