TEMPE, Ariz. -- Senior Ruslan Pateevs role has shrunk to about the size of his of one his size-15 Nikes this season, and he's admitted to a difficult day or two of reflection. But he has gotten past that, choosing determination over disaffection.
Arizona State won its Pac-12 opener because he did.
Entering when Jordan Bachynski suffered a muscle cramp in his left leg with 3:25 remaining in overtime, Pateev did a little bit of everything to help the Sun Devils pull out a 55-54 overtime victory over Utah before 5,314 at Wells Fargo Arena on Wednesday.
Pateev made a reverse layup on the left baseline to give ASU a 53-51 lead with three minutes left in overtime, used all of his 7 feet and 255 pounds to set a screen that freed Jahii Carson for the game-deciding layup with 34.4 seconds remaining, and blocked a short drive by Jarred DuBois with 12.2 seconds left.
After Utah brought the ball inbounds, Pateev and Jonathan Gilling harassed the Utes into another timeout with four seconds remaining. On the Utes final possession, Pateev crowded the middle when Jason Washburn missed a 6-footer, and Jordan Loveridge could not get a follow shot over the rim before time expired.
For a guy who had played only 56 minutes in the first 13 games and missed four of them entirely, Pateevs contribution was a testament to a maturity beyond his years.
To be honest, it was mentally tough. At the beginning of the year, I was down. But at the same time, you cant be down. Its a long season. I had to stay positive and be all in with the team, because they will need me at some point. If I was mentally down, I couldnt help, said Pateev, one of ASUs three scholarship seniors and the only one who has been with the team for four years.
So I had to stay up. I really dont know how I did it. I was talking to myself. Self-talk always helps. You are the person who decides what you want to do. You choose what to do. Itd hard, but everybody learns. That was a great learning experience for me. I made it through.
Carrick Felix had 17 points and 16 rebounds, and Carson had 15 points, including a 3-pointer from the left side of the key with 59 seconds remaining in regulation to tie it at 49. Jordan Bachynski had 14 points and eight rebounds.
Pateev, who made some nice contributions last year before Bachynski came into his own in the second half of the season, finished with four points, three rebounds, two blocked shots and an assist in 14 minutes. It was the most time he had seen in a game this year, but he begrudges no one.
"It is not actually disappointing to me. Ive been here for years, and I dont regret coming from the bench, or starting, or not even playing. Im a team guy. Having guys who can run even better than me, I respect that. I do what coach asks me to do. Im just trying to help the team as best I can, said Pateev, a native of Moscow, Russia.
If somebody is hurt, somebody has to step up and play as good as the player before, or even better. I feel like this game in particular, I had to step it up even better because it was a close game. You just have to step up and play. Thats what it comes down to.
Carson was only 5 for 18 from the field against a quick Utah defense that alternated between a switching man-to-man defense and a matchup zone, and he had difficulty getting decent looks in the lane with Washburn, a 6-foot-10 senior, down low. But when ASU needed it, Carson made two free throws with 1:49 left in regulation, dropped in his only 3-pointer, and hit the go-ahead layup on ASUs final possession.
'Rus' set a good screen. When he sets a good screen, it is hard for the big to switch and it is hard for the guard to go underneath. I saw an opening. You know I like the right side glass, so I felt confident enough to knock it down. It was more of a step-up screen instead of coming around a curl screen. Me and Rus made eye contact, and he said he was going to come up and set a setup right on the elbow. I used it to my advantage and used most of his body on the screen, and nobody was there to contest.
Washburn was Utahs rock, finishing with 19 points a career-high 18 rebounds, almost doubling his previous high of 10. DuBois, who had 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting, was the only other Ute in double figures.
ASU (12-2) will meet Colorado (10-2) on Sunday. Utah fell to 8-5.
Neither team shot well in a game that was played at Utahs slow-it-down tempo, the Devils making 37.1 percent and the Utes hitting 34.5, although it was not particularly messy. ASU had a season-low eight turnovers, two fewer that Utah. Take away Washburn and the Utes made 12 of 43 field-goal attempts. Take away Bachynski and the Sun Devils were 16 of 52.
The Bachynski brothers -- Jordan and Utah center Dallin -- were seldom on the court at the same time since Dallin had four fouls in six minutes, all while covering his brother. He pump-faked Jordan into the air and dunked on him for a 15-9 lead early in the game, although the Utes did not lead again until the final six minutes. Jordan scored eight points in the first five minutes of the second half to keep ASU in slight command.
I struggled both mentally and on the court in the first half, Bachynski said. "I think my brothers dunk made me hungrier. In the second half I knew I needed to do something different. I just reset my mind and knew that I needed to play my game."
Jordan guzzled Gatorade on the bench in overtime but could not rid himself of the cramp in his left leg, although he said he expects to be fine for the Colorado game on Sunday. Pateev picked him up.
I love Ruslan, said Bachynski, who plays against him every day in practice.
He is the most unselfish player Ive ever met. He goes hard every day in practice. It shows how mentally strong he is to come in after not playing for so long and do such a fantastic job. There are so many players, if they dont play, they get down on themselves and they give up. Hes not one of those guys. He was clutch. Without him, we wouldnt have won.