Here are some of the things Utah needs to do if the Utes have a chance at winning tonight against the Sun Devils. Easy to type, much more difficult to execute on a basketball court.
1) Contain Jahii Carson - Again, much more difficult to do. Carson is a dynamo with the basketball, explosive in the open floor, a good shooter, very difficult to stay in front of. Because of him, you can expect Utah to play a lot of zone defense. He's that dynamic off the dribble. He averages 17 points per game. Making him earn his offense is essential. Turning him into a jump-shooter is almost as important.
2) Take care of the ball - The last two weeks have been infiltrated by gobs of unforced turnovers from the Utah guards. And that was against people like Cal State Northridge. Arizona State will ramp up the defensive pressure, and Pac-12 defenses following will do the same. Utah is the one team in the league that could have a low possession usage in the next two months. Turnovers will hurt the Utes more than most teams.
3) Establish the interior - Jason Washburn and Dallin Bachynski must have a presence down low on both ends. That means rebounding and lane-clogging for Bachynski. That means scoring for Washburn. The two have seen ups and downs in the past two months. They have to be good tonight.
4) Out-Bachynski Bachynski - The dual between brothers will be an intruging matchup, with Jordan Bachynski averaging 4.5 blocks per game for ASU. If he is left to roam free, Utah has little hope of winning. That means Dallin Bachynski and Washburn have to battle him to a draw, or outdo him.
5) Shake the jitters - For many of the Utah freshmen, and the transfers, this is what it's all about. Their Pac-12 debuts are tonight. The warm-ups are finished. Which rookies will step up? Which will wilt under the glare of the spotlight? This will be the game within the game.