TEMPE, Ariz. — For the first time since joining the Pac-12, the Utah Utes won’t have to contend with the conference’s all-time leading shot blocker. Jordan Bachynski, the older brother of Utah senior Dallin Bachynski, has graduated and is no longer the man in the middle for Arizona State.
The eighth-ranked Utes (13-2, 3-0) take on the Sun Devils (8-8, 0-3) Thursday (8 p.m., Fox Sports 1) at Wells Fargo Arena.
“It’s actually kind of weird,” Dallin Bachynski said of not going to battle against his brother. “But one nice thing is he’s actually visiting Arizona State right now, so he’s in Phoenix and I’ll be able to see him and my nephew.”
With only one Bachynski playing in this ASU-Utah matchup, Dallin is hopeful the family support won’t be kind of split as it has been in the past. He even noted that Jordan has some Utah gear.
However, Dallin expects his big brother to wear ASU stuff — same goes for his sister-in-law.
“I know my mom will wear U. stuff for sure, though,” Dallin said with a smile.
Jordan, who now plays professional basketball in Turkey, was last season’s Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. He led the NCAA with 133 blocked shots and finished his career with a conference-record 314 rejections.
The oldest Bachynski brother proved to be especially troublesome for Utah in Tempe. He averaged 12 points, 10.3 rebounds and three blocks in leading the Sun Devils to three victories over the Utes — 57-52 in 2011-12; 55-54 in overtime the following season; and 79-75 last year.
Not having Jordan around, Dallin noted, “definitely changes the Sun Devils.”
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak agrees. However, he pointed out that the dynamics of teams change significantly each year for the most part. ASU, though, is moving on without its top three scorers from last season — Jahii Carson (18.6 ppg), Jermaine Marshall (15.1 ppg) and Bachynski (11.5 ppg).
Senior guard Shaquielle McKissic now leads a balanced attack for the Sun Devils with 11 points per game. Junior forward Eric Jacobsen averages 10.2 points and a team-high 6.9 rebounds.
Although ASU enters the game at 8-8 overall and 0-3 in Pac-12 play, the Utes are determined not to look past the Sun Devils and ahead to Saturday’s game at 10th-ranked Arizona.
“We’ve got to focus on the task at hand and that’s Arizona State,” said freshman forward Brekkott Chapman, who added that any team in the Pac-12 is capable of beating anyone else. “So you’ve just got to go and play as hard as you can — night in and night out.”
Utah enters its first conference road trip of the season as a front-runner in terms of rankings and the standings.
“We know we have a target on our back. We know it’s there,” Bachynski said. “We know that every team that we play is going to take a shot at us. We just have to be prepared every game.”