January 5, 2018 / 4:38 AM / a year ago

No. 14 Arizona pulls away late to avoid upset vs. Utah

Deandre Ayton scored 19 of his 24 points after halftime and pulled down 14 rebounds to lead Arizona to a 94-82 victory over Utah at Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday night.

Rawle Alkins added 22 points while Parker Jackson-Cartwright chipped in 19 and Dusan Ristic tallied 11 points and nine rebounds for the No. 14 Wildcats. Arizona (12-3, 2-0 Pac-12) beat Utah for 11th time in the last 12 games between the two teams.

Sedrick Barefield scored 23 points to lead Utah and dished out six assists, with 20 points coming in the second half. David Collette added 19 points while Tyler Rawson tallied 16 and Justin Bibbins chipped in 14 points and eight assists. The Utes (10-4, 2-1 Pac-12) trailed by as many as 17 points, but came up short in a second-half rally.

Arizona owned a major edge on the glass to stay a step ahead of Utah. The Wildcats finished with a 46-23 advantage on rebounds. They had 14 offensive rebounds, which they turned into 23 second-chance points.

Utah struggled to find its shot in the first half, going 36.7 percent from the field. The Utes converted 8 of 9 layup attempts, but shot 3-of-21 on their other field goal attempts. It opened the door for the Wildcats to take control, which they didn’t let go to waste.

Arizona scored on six straight possessions to open up a 31-14 lead with 7:37 left in the first half. Alkins got the run going with a jumper, and Ayton finished it off with a dunk.

The Utes rallied and shaved Arizona’s lead in half, cutting it to 36-28 on a layup from Donnie Tillman. Utah couldn’t draw any closer before halftime. Ayton hit a jumper, Allonzo Trier followed with a 3-point play and Jackson-Cartwright dialed up a 3-pointer over three straight possessions to put the Wildcats ahead 44-30 heading into the final minute before halftime.

Utah chipped away at the lead again early in the second half behind Barefield’s hot shooting. The senior drained a pair of 3-pointers and hit three free throws over three straight possessions to trim Arizona’s lead to 61-59.

The Utes tied it up three times late in the half, the third time at 77-77 on a pair of free throws from Collette with 3:46 left. Ayton buried a jumper in the lane to keep Utah from taking the lead and spark a 11-0 run that put the Wildcats back up 88-77 with 1:31 remaining.

—Field Level Media

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