Arizona State hadn’t played in a week. Worse, the Sun Devils hadn’t won in 14 days.

In college basketball, such moments are generally not considered the best of times, but the Sun Devils took advantage, having what one player called their best practices of the season.

The result: A 79-75 much-needed home win over Utah in front of 7,689 fans at Wells Fargo Arena on Thursday night. It was far from pretty, but it was exactly what ASU needed, a gritty effort from a team that for much of the season has not done grit well.

“We took a good hard look at ourselves,” ASU coach Herb Sendek said. “We had some honest conversations, and we put those right in front. We didn’t want to panic, but we wanted to be truthful. I thought our guys really listened. They trusted the message. Nobody took it personal.”

ASU improved to 14-5 and 3-3 in the Pac-12, while Utah — still seeking its first road win — dropped to 14-5 and 3-4.

After the game, Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak stopped Sendek as the two shook hands. The conversation didn’t look heated, but it was clear Krystkowiak had a message to deliver. After the contest, neither coach divulged what was said.

Krystkowiak: “It was not a problem at all. Herb and I get along great. Just wanted him to know something about his team.”

Said Sendek: “He just was checking to see (about) a good place to get a bite to eat.”

For the first time in a while, Jahii Carson looked like Jahii Carson. The sophomore point guard had 23 points and eight rebounds. He shot 10of22 from the field, seven of his field goals coming in the lane. Perhaps most important, he had that look in his eye. One that usually means he won’t let ASU lose.

Twice, after Utah cut ASU’s lead to one in the final minutes, Carson scored off penetration. Then, with the crowd on its feet, Carson fed Jonathan Gilling for a 3-pointer that gave ASU a 73-67 lead with 1:40 left.

That was a big moment for Gilling. The junior forward struggled in last week’s Arizona loss, so much so that Sendek replaced him with sophomore Eric Jacobsen in the starting lineup. Message received. Gilling scored 13 points, hitting all five of his shots, and dished six assists.

“Jon Gilling really responded to coming off the bench exceptionally well,” Sendek said. “He competed on defense and moved the ball exceptionally well on offense. And then the icing on the cake was the big 3 he hit.”