Arizona runs away from Utah in second half to remain unbeaten in Pac-12 play
With 5:05 to play in the first half Saturday, Utah had a 24-18 lead over the sixth-ranked Arizona Wildcats.
Over the course of the next 20 game minutes, Arizona outscored Utah 49-21. That included a seven-minute stretch midway through the second half where the Cats took control of the game by the neck and all but ended things. From the 12-minute mark to the five-minute mark, Arizona held Utah scoreless and poured in 21 points to take a one-point margin all the way to 22.
The Cats cruised from then on to win it 82-64.
‘Cats came back with a vengeance. 😼
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) January 16, 2022
Arizona forward Azuolas Tubelis was electric in the win, completely unconscious from the opening tip to the final buzzer. He poured in a career-high 32 points on 14-of-24 shooting (16 in the first half, 16 in the second) and added eight boards, five assists, two steals, and a blocked shot.
“We are always looking for each other, but it depends on how the other team is defending us,” Tubelis said of the Arizona bigs after the game. “The way they were guarding us, we had some open. It’s not that hard. It’s simple, really.”
Center Christian Koloko added 16 points on a perfect 7-for-7 shooting to help the Cats, who completely dominated the paint. Arizona controlled the boards 35-31 and outscored Utah in the paint, 56-28, as it looked all evening for high-low action. The defense also forced 20 Utah turnovers.
“They just wore us down, specifically in the paint with their 4s and their 5s and their physicality,” said Utah coach Craig Smith said.
For Utah, guard Both Gach led the way with 12 points, while forward Dusan Mahorcic and center Lahat Thioune each added 10 points apiece.
Arizona moved to 14-1 with the win and stayed unbeaten in conference play to start the season (4-0). With USC and UCLA both losing throughout the week, the Cats now sit alone atop the Pac-12 standings and are sure to rise in the next AP poll. They’ll play Stanford on the road on Thursday, Jan. 20 with tip-off set for 8 p.m. PT on ESPNU.
Utah (8-9, 1-6 Pac-12) will play Arizona State on Monday, Jan. 17, at 1 p.m. PT.