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January 25, 2014
Buffs leave Arizona winless
TEMPE, Ariz. - Arizona State pulled out a hard-fought win over Utah in its first must-win game this week.
For the second one, the Sun Devils won in a rout, which they hope will provide the momentum they'll need for the rest of the season.
Jahii Carson scored 18 points, Jonathan Gilling provided a perimeter-shooting boost by hitting all four of his 3-pointers for 12 points and Arizona State ran away from Colorado for a 72-51 victory on Saturday night.
"It was definitely a must-win series for us," Carson said. "We needed to come away with two wins and we knew had a tough road coming up. It's great momentum for us coming off these two wins and hopefully we can carry the momentum up and keep our good energy next week in practice."
Arizona State (15-5, 4-3 Pac-12) had to grind out its win over the Utes on Thursday night after struggling to start conference.
The Sun Devils breezed past Colorado, taking an 11-point lead in the first half and turning it into a blowout in the opening minutes of the second behind a barrage of 3-pointers.
Gilling has responded well to coming off the bench, extending his streak of made 3-pointers to seven in two games. Carson was his usual dominating self, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out four assists while becoming the second player - with Bobby Lazor in 1997-99 - to eclipse 1,000 career points in his first two years.
The Sun Devils scored 28 points off Colorado's 19 turnovers, had a 24-7 advantage off the bench and outrebounded one of the conference's best rebounding teams by five for their most lopsided conference win since 2010.
"If we would have lost, it wouldn't have been good; I don't know how to say it any other way," Arizona State coach Herb Sendek said with a chuckle. "It you lose two at home or one at home in this league, it's unforgiving because then you've got to go on the road and it wouldn't have been ideal."
Colorado (15-6, 4-4) managed keep top-ranked Arizona in its sights Thursday night despite playing without leading scorer Spencer Dinwiddie.
The Buffaloes had no chance without him against Arizona State, stumbling out of the gate and never able to recover in a game that became lopsided in a hurry.
Colorado fell into an early hole behind a rash of turnovers and had little chance of mounting a comeback thanks to shaky defense and a rough night shooting from the perimeter.
Xavier Johnson had 12 points and Josh Scott added 11 for the Buffaloes, who were 2 of 11 from 3-point range.
"We let our frustrations get the better of us tonight," Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. "We talked after the Arizona game that there were some things to build on. Tonight, there's not much to build on other than saying we need to get back to square one and get better."
After beating Utah, the Sun Devils were still in got-to-have-it mode against Colorado, with little room for error the final six weeks of the season.
Colorado has just been trying to hold on since Dinwiddie, who also led the team in assists, tore his ACL against Washington on Jan. 12.
The Buffaloes essentially kept Arizona within reach in its last game, but had a little more trouble getting going offensively against Arizona State, turning it over 12 times in the first half while managing 23 points.
The Sun Devils had their trouble holding onto the ball - 11 turnovers - but made up for it with good shooting and some unexpected contributions.
Arizona State hit 12 of 23 shots and led 34-23 at halftime behind seven points from Shaquielle McKissic and six each from Eric Jacobsen and Gilling.
The teams combined for three more turnovers than field goals (20) in the first half.
Colorado cut down on the sloppy play in the second half, at least in terms of turnovers, but struggled to get shots to fall as Arizona State started to pull away.
The Buffaloes missed nine of their first 12 attempts in the half and the Sun Devils started dropping in 3-pointers, two from Jermaine Marshall from the same spot on the wing and a step-backer from Carson that made it 46-29.
Arizona State hit 6 of 10 from 3-point range in the second half to pull out a much-needed win and send Colorado to its third loss in four games.
"When things are going well, there's a fine line between winning and losing," Boyle said. "Tonight, there wasn't a fine line. It was a pretty wide gap. "
Officials: Rick Batsell, Rodrick Dixon, KC Ely