Utah Utes vs. Arizona State Sun Devils Pick & Prediction MARCH 13th 2024

It wouldn’t be surprising if Utah and Arizona State are entering Wednesday’s first-round matchup in the Pac-12 tournament thinking of what might have been.

Utah (18-13, 9-11 Pac-12) had to settle for the tourney’s sixth seed, and no chance at a first-round bye, after dropping consecutive games in the state of Oregon last week, including 66-65 to Oregon on Saturday in Eugene.

The Utes had plenty of opportunities to win that game, but they couldn’t overcome the Ducks, who survived despite leading only 66-60 with 4:06 to play and never scoring again.

Arizona State (14-17, 8-12) faces even more of an uphill battle. On top of stumbling to the 11th seed by losing five of their last six games, the Sun Devils are without their second-highest scorer.

Jose Perez, who averaged 13.5 points per game and shot 40.5 percent from 3-point range, left the team prior to its regular-season finale at UCLA to pursue a professional opportunity in the Dominican Republic. Perez scored 25 points, one off his season high, in Thursday’s 12-point loss at UCLA.

Despite the timing of Perez’s decision, Sun Devils coach Bobby Hurley expressed support for the senior, who played at Gardner-Webb, Marquette, Manhattan, and enrolled at West Virginia but never played there, all before arriving in Tempe.

“I don’t walk in his shoes, so I’m not going to be judgmental of his decision. I don’t bash my players. You gotta make choices in life, and you have to do what’s best for you,” Hurley said via USA Today.

Utah’s Branden Carlson is coming off three straight strong offensive performances. He had 30 points against Cal, lit up Oregon State for 40 and scored 19 at Oregon despite leaving three minutes into the second half with an arm injury. The Utes can only hope their top scorer (17.5 ppg) and rebounder (6.9 rpg) is available. Coach Craig Smith said there’s a chance Carlson will not play, and it will be a game-time decision.

“We’re not counting on him playing. Obviously, we’re cautiously optimistic,” Smith told KTVX television. “He’s doing everything he possibly can.”

Without Carlson, Utah will look to their second- and third-highest scorers, Gabe Madsen (13.3 ppg) and Deivon Smith (12.6), to lead on offense.

Arizona State won both meetings with Utah in the regular season.

–Field Level Media

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