Big ‘Cats overpower Runnin’ Utes for Pac-12 win

AP photo

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) – Dusan Ristic scored 18 points, Lauri Markkanen added 11 and No. 17 Arizona wore down Utah for a 66-56 victory Thursday night.

Arizona (14-2, 3-0 Pac-12) had offensive lapses at times, but used its size advantage to get the Utes into foul trouble and prevent them from getting many open looks on the perimeter.

utesThe Wildcats held Utah (10-4, 1-1) to a long scoreless drought in the first half and 4-of-21 shooting from 3-point range overall to win their 14th straight home game.

Parker Jackson-Cartwright had nine assists while controlling Arizona’s offense much of the night in his third game back from a sprained ankle.

David Collette scored 13 points despite battling foul trouble most of the game and Devon Daniels added 12 for the Utes.

Utah wanted to exploit Arizona’s interior defense and did just that early, hitting seven of their first eight shots to go up five points. Then Collette went to the bench with his second foul midway through and the shots stopped falling, leading to a scoreless streak that stretched nearly 7 minutes.

Collette remained on the bench and Utah went 6 for 17 the rest of the half.

Jackson-Cartwright was key to Arizona breaking Utah’s zone in the first half, dribbling through defenders and setting up teammates with pinpoint passes. He had seven assists and no turnovers by halftime, his only basket a runner at the buzzer that put the Wildcats up 35-27.

The Utes clawed their way back in the second half, pulling within 51-43 despite Collette going to the bench with his third foul midway through.

Collette got his fourth foul with about 6 minutes left and his backup, Jayce Johnson, fouled out right after that. Arizona began to stretch the lead from there, pushing it to 11 with just over a minute left.

BIG PICTURE

Utah started strong and fought its way back a couple of times, but can’t afford its big men to get into foul trouble, particularly with a big team like Arizona.

The Wildcats were far from perfect, but found a way to win yet another game despite a depleted roster.

UP NEXT

Utah plays at Arizona State on Saturday before hosting No. 5 UCLA and No. 25 USC next week.

Arizona hosts Colorado on Saturday before playing rival Arizona State on Jan. 12.

Stats: Arizona 66, Utah 56

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Twitter: @oldschoolag

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