Tempe, Ariz. • Larry Krystkowiak didn’t even give the officials the chance to explain.
On the heels of freshman center Matt Van Komen getting a curious technical foul, presumably for hanging on the rim after a dunk, the Utah coach lost it on lead official Mike Reed. He got one technical, had to be held back by his staff, picked up another one and was ejected.
This is how Saturday night ended, Krystkowiak taking a breath, making his way off the floor with 1:23 to play, leaving behind a Utes team searching for answers after a fourth straight loss, 83-64, at the hands of Arizona State on Saturday night in front of 9,608 at Desert Financial Arena.
“Well, I saw a 7-foot-4 guy dunk the ball and somebody is underneath him, and you’re allowed to hang on the rim,” Krystkowiak said. “That’s all I got. It just wasn’t the proper call to make at that time, and I had no problem with the officiating.
“I like all those guys, but I thought that was BS at the end.”
The theatrics at the end of Utah’s fifth loss in six games, which placed it in sole possession of last place in the Pac-12, came after the Sun Devils held the Utes (10-7, 1-4 Pac-12) at arm’s length for the majority of the night.
Arizona State (11-7, 2-3 Pac-12) knocked down four of its first five shots of the second half to bust open what was a mildly-competitive game. The Sun Devils scored 28 points off 18 Ute turnovers, and held them to 39.3 percent shooting for the night.
Meanwhile, Utah has not shot better than 43.9 percent from the field over its last six games.
Up six at the half, ASU came out of the locker room charging. A Rob Edwards 3-pointer from the left wing extended the Sun Devils’ lead to 35-25. A Taeshon Cherry layup and a pretty Euro-step from Remy Martin put Utah in a 14-point hole at the 17-minute mark.
The Utes chipped away, getting the lead down to five, but they got no closer. Cherry hit a triple from left wing, and after Kimani Lawrence stole the ball from Rylan Jones, the action going the other way ended with Martin scoring in transition.
“I’m just trying to take the positives out of this and say we played terrible and it was a five-point game at one point in the second half,” said Timmy Allen, who finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds, but shot just 6 for 18. “Details on the defensive end led to big buckets for them.”
Martin, Arizona State’s leading scorer, finished with 20 points on 9-for-20 shooting. Edwards, who came in averaging 9.2 points per game, had 24 on 6-for-7 shooting, including 5 for 6 from 3-point range.
Since taking then-No. 4 Oregon to the limit on Jan. 4, Utah has struggled with its offense, specifically in the halfcourt. That was the case again as Saturday night unfolded. The Utes missed their first three shots, 15 of their first 20, and shot just 8 for 28 in the first half, including 3 for 8 from 3-point range.
Arizona State assumed control early, but certainly did not impose its will. The Sun Devils themselves went through a couple of prolonged scoring droughts, helping to keep Utah within reach.
A Jalen Graham follow off an Alonzo Verge Jr. miss at the rim gave Arizona State its largest advantage to that point, 23-14, with 7:34 before halftime, but Utah responded.
Mikael Jantunen cut to the rim and laid the ball in after Jones whipped a pass to the 6-foot-8 Finn from the top of the key. Allen hit a 3-pointer from the left wing, just his fifth triple of the season, then hit a free throw the next time down to pull the Utes within four at 25-19.