No. 3 Arizona wins against Utah 60-57
Photo by Tyler Baker/ Arizona Daily Wildcat
The Cardiac ‘Cats were right back at it against Utah.
In a polar opposite performance of Thursday’s comeback win against Colorado, the
No. 3 Arizona basketball team (14-0, 2-0 Pac-12) led the whole way in defeating Utah (8-7, 0-2) 60-57 at McKale Center.
Arizona, though, almost pulled a Colorado this time around in blowing a 10 point lead and allowing the Utes to pull within one point for the first time with 1:07 left in the game.
“There was a large part of the game where we were outplayed,” head coach Sean Miller said. “But we were resilient. At the end we were the better team. Tonight’s game, I didn’t think our level of play was very good.
After Nick Johnson missed a 3-pointer with 38 seconds remaining, Utah had possession and the shot clock turned off and a chance to take the lead.
But, Jarred Dubois missed an ill-advised 3-point jumper with 11 seconds remaining.
Arizona’s Mark Lyons, the hero in Thursday’s win with game-winning free throws, immediately was fouled and nailed each of his attempts at the charity stripe, putting the UA up three with 7.2 seconds on the clock. Lyons finished with 12 points and four assists.
Dubois missed one final long ball attempt as time expired, giving Arizona its 14th straight win to open the season.
“We made the game harder than it was supposed to be,” guard/forward Kevin Parrom said. “I think everyone saw that. But at the same time guys are playing at the best level they can. Teams are coming in they’re trying to beat us. We have a bulls eye [on our back] and we have to understand that.”
“I think tonight we expected to win by 20 because it’s Utah, but they played hard from start to finish and we pulled out another lucky one.”
Solomon Hill led the way for the Wildcats with 19 points on 6-of-7 shooting and six rebounds, but outside of strong first half from Brandon Ashley and a solid all-around performance from Kevin Parrom, the rest of the Wildcats struggled from the field.
Lyons, Nick Johnson, Kaleb Tarczewski, Jordin Mayes and Grant Jerrett combined to shoot 7-of-31 from the field, although Tarczewski led the UA with nine rebounds.
“Solomon [Hill] had a very good night,” Miller said. “[He] made some tough shots. Other than that there were a lot of things in the game I know we can do better.”
Ashley finished with 11 points, all in the first half, yet only played six second half minutes because of defensive struggles. Parrom had seven points and eight rebounds.
“Brandon was really aggressive,” Miller said. “Anytime you’re 5-for-7 and have 11 points, that’s great. Defensively, no question he struggled. Any fan can see that.”
Utah, which outscored Arizona 34-30 in the second half, was led by freshman forward Jordan Loveridge and senior big Jason Washburn with 17 points a piece. Washburn also had a game-high 11 rebounds.
Loveridge, who led all first half scorers with 13 points, was held scoreless for most of the second half. His first basket of the final frame came on a jumper 2:43 remaining, bringing Utah to within two points after trailing by as many as 10 earlier in the half.
Dubois was Arizona’s leading scorer entering the game, but was held to 12 points on 2-of-10 shooting, for which Miller gave credit to stout defensive play from Johnson.
Next, Arizona will travel to Oregon to take on the Ducks on Jan. 10 and Oregon State on Jan. 12.
“It’s gonna be a big week for us because we go on the road,” Hill said. “If we put a performance like this on defense at home, we gotta pick it up on the road.”