- Associated Press - Friday, January 24, 2014

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - Jahii Carson didn’t let a long shooting slump stop him when it was time to take over Thursday night’s game against Utah.

The sophomore playmaker sank a jumper, hit two free throws and made a pair of his signature driving layups in a five-minute span late in the game to lead Arizona State past the Utes 79-75.

“I’ve said all along, I haven’t been around many athletes who have the level of confidence that he does,” Arizona State coach Herb Sendek said. “He’s not one of these guys that if something goes south, his confidence dissipates. He just has supreme confidence in himself and that’s what you have to have to make those kind of plays.”

Carson finished with 23 points, surpassing 1,000 points for his career in the process.

“I just wasn’t hitting shots,” he said of his recent struggles. “There are times when guys don’t hit shots and they don’t play the way they’re capable of playing. I try to be positive and have a great spirit and keep working hard. I just kept attacking, and kept working hard and finally I’m slowly getting out of it.”

Utah coach Larry Krystowiak called Carson “a handful.”

“That’s what we kind of anticipated,” Krystowiak said. “He got it going a little bit to the rim. We didn’t do as good a job, and then we had some breakdowns that didn’t involve him, too, where I thought the game got away.”

Jonathan Gilling added 13 points, including 3 of 3 on 3-pointers, a critical one coming with 1:40 to play for the Sun Devils (14-5, 3-3 Pac-12).

Jordan Bachynski had 11 points and 12 rebounds for Arizona State.

Jordan Loveridge scored 22 points and Delon Wright 21 for the Utes (14-5, 3-4), who led by as many as nine in the first half and were up 41-37 at the break.

Shaquielle McKissic added 11 points for Arizona State, which had lost two in a row.

Dakarai Tucker’s 3-pointer gave Utah its last lead, 61-60, with 7:32 to go. Carson’s 10-footer 17 seconds later put the Sun Devils up for good, 62-61. Bachynski’s fast-break layup made it 64-61. Three times, Utah cut the lead to one only to have Arizona State respond.

Carson’s driving layup with 2:32 to play put Arizona State up 70-67, then Gilling’s 3-pointer made it 73-67 with 1:40 left. Bachynski’s two free throws boosted the Sun Devils’ lead to 75-67 1:22 from the finish.

After missing three of four free throws, Arizona State finally put it away when Jermaine Marshall made three of four at the foul line.

Arizona State got a strong game from seldom-used Bo Barnes, who scored nine points, including a pair of 3s.

Utah, coming off home victories over UCLA and Southern California, used a 9-0 run to go up 28-19 on Loveridge’s 3-pointer with 8:10 left in the half.

Carson brought the Sun Devils back, scoring seven points in a 10-2 spurt that cut the lead to 34-33 on Gilling’s 3-pointer 3:50 before the break.

But Wright’s three-point play, followed by Loveridge’s 15-footer boosted it to 39-33.

McKissic’s baseline jumper at the buzzer cut Utah’s lead to 41-37 at the half.

Arizona State took its first lead since the opening minutes, 46-45 on Bachynski’s two free throws with 6:33 to play. But Loveridge responded with a 3-pointer and Utah was on top 48-46.

Gilling’s trey put the Sun Devils up 50-49, triggering a 7-0 surge that had Arizona State ahead 54-49 when Brandan Kearney scored with 12:58 left. Utah managed one final surge before the Sun Devils pulled away for good.

Krystowiak wouldn’t use his team’s youth as an excuse.

“It’s pretty simple, you know, we just made too many errors in the pick and roll coverage,” he said. “We didn’t sprint back on defense. We had some lapses in our assignments on assignments, and you can’t do that, particularly when you’re on the road.”

Bachynski’s younger brother Dallin scored six points for Utah.

“Last night he came over to my house and we played some video games. It was just another day,” Jordan Bachynski said. “Then we came and battled against each other today, and we battled hard.”

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