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Utes close out regular season with dominant 98-59 win over Arizona State

Utah Utes forward Mikael Jantunen (20)  is introduced in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. The Utes won 79-65.

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)



SALT LAKE CITY — Utah wasted no time to show the visiting Arizona State Sun Devils it was there to closeout the regular season with a win.

Mikael Jantunen and Timmy Allen went to work early and quickly built up a lead over Arizona State. And as the game developed, the score only grew as Utah came away with a 98-59 win over Arizona State to finish the regular season with an 11-12 overall record and 8-11 record in Pac-12 play to finish as the eighth best team in the conference.

Jantunen, who didn't miss a shot until the final minute of the first half, led the team with 15 points and seven rebounds. His first half 13-points on 5-of-6 shooting was a major boost to a Utah team that built up a 13-point halftime lead (41-28).

Allen had only 6 points in the first half, but he had six of Utah's 10 assists in the half. He opened up the game with a beautifully read skip pass to Jantunen for a corner 3-pointer and finished the half with a similar skip pass between defenders to hit a wide-open Riley Battin for a top-of-the-key 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Utah it's largest lead of the half.

Allen finished the matinee game with 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting, seven rebounds and eight assists. He also got a technical foul after saying something to Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley just three minutes into the second half. The technical came moments after Hurley picked up a technical of his own.

Utah finished the game with 24 assists on 39 made buckets (58%) and looked like a team ready to closeout the regular season with some momentum ahead of the conference tournament. Alfonso Plummer added 15 points and four assists, Branden Carlson added 11 points and eight rebounds, and Ian Martinez added 12 points, five rebounds and three assists.

Arizona State, who finished the regular season as the ninth best team, struggled to contain Utah for much of the game and gave up 24 points in the paint in the first half. At one point, Arizona State allowed three consecutive unanswered layups to the rim to help Utah build up a double-digit lead.

Remy Martin, the Pac-12's leading scorer, only attempted one shot in the first half, despite his team missing Josh Christopher and Marcus Bagley, who combine for just over 25 points per game. Forward Chris Osten, who had only 2 points, left the game early and did not return. Martin, who averages more than 20 points per game, finished with only 8 points.

Arizona State's Alonzo Verge Jr. and Holland Woods led the team with 13 points apiece as the Sun Devils finished shooting 38% from the field.

Utah was again without sophomore guard Rylan Jones, who has been sidelined for seven games, with a right shoulder injury. His status for next week's Pac-12 Tournament is unknown. Utah is projected to play Washington in the conference tournament as a seven seed (Arizona is not eligible for the tournament), though the official bracket will not be released until later Saturday.

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