Utes senior guard Justin Bibbins and Arizona State senior guard Kodi Justice didn’t need a scouting report to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
The two have years of experience playing together and learning the ins and outs of one another’s game. Bibbins and Justice were AAU teammates for the Compton (Calif.) Magic, Bibbins the point guard and Justice the shooting guard in a hard-nosed backcourt.
That team also included Portland State’s leading scorer Deontae North, Cal Poly’s leading scorer Victor Joseph, former Utah State forward now playing at UC Irvine Elston Jones and UC Riverside center Idy Diallo. Bibbins started his collegiate career at Long Beach State prior to coming to Utah as a graduate transfer.
“We had a bunch of guys that were super under-recruited, severely under-recruited,” Compton Magic Director Etop Udo-Ema said. “... That team was tough, probably one of my toughest teams in a while. Bibbins has always been a super tough-ass kid, probably because people underestimated him because of his size. Bibb takes that personal.”
Utes junior guard Sedrick Barefield also played for the Compton Magic club, but he was one year younger than Bibbins and Justice and on a different team.
Bibbins, Barefield and Justice each scored 20 points or more in the first game between Arizona State and Utah in Salt Lake City. Justice went 9 of 15 and scored 20 points in ASU’s 80-77 win on Jan. 7, while Bibbins scored 22 points and dished out six assists. Barefield, who has had some shooting struggles this season, scored 21 points and made five 3-pointers.
The same weekend Utah hosted ASU, nine Compton Magic alums scored 20 points or more for Division I programs.
Back to Bealer
Senior wing Gabe Bealer started for the first time since the Utes’ previous meeting with the Sun Devils on Jan. 7. He’d come off the bench the past four games, including a 15-point game against Washington State on Sunday.
Junior guard Parker Van Dyke also started for the second consecutive game as Sedrick Barefield came off the bench. Barefield has been looking for consistency this season, but he scored 14 points off the bench in the team’s most recent game against Washington State.
Former Utah baseball standout C.J. Cron attended Thursday’s game. The proud Ute alum sat behind the Utes bench in the stands in the first half. Cron, a member of the Los Angeles Angels, spent time this season past season with the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate, the Salt Lake Bees.
Thursday night’s game marked just the third at home for the Sun Devils since before Christmas. The Sun Devils played Oregon and Oregon State at home during Pac-12 Conference play, but their last home game prior to that came against Pacific on Dec. 22.