What do we have here folks? Are the Utes rounding into form and starting to make some damage in the Pac-12? Because that’s what it looks like. The Utes beat Arizona for just the third time since joining the league on Thursday night. The Utes have also won three of their last four games, and are just playing some solid hoops. Timmy Allen led the way with 18 points and 9 rebounds. Pelle Larsson added 14 points, while Alfonso Plummer scored 12 points off the bench, while both Branden Carlson and Riley Battin scored 10 points each.
The first half Utah really locked in defensively, and was able to keep the Wildcats close when they went though an offensive draught midway through the half when they couldn’t get a bucket. Utah turned Arizona eight times in that first half and scored eight points off those turnovers, and was able to pull out of a bit of a hole to take a 32-27 lead going into the locker room.
Utah came out of the half with that same defensive mentality, and were able to go on a 11-4 run to build a double-digit lead over Arizona 43-31. Utah’s offense was moving the ball with purpose, finding the open guy, and the Utes were also getting into transition off of their defense, and they were able to build an 18 point lead after a nice lay up by Allen. From that point on, it was a game of mini runs by both teams. Arizona had a 9-0 run that started to give Utah fans heartburn, but Utah was able to counter with a run of their own to give the Utes the cushion they needed to pull away.
Utah held Arizona to just 28% shooting in that second half, and 37% on the game. They also only allowed the Cats to hit 2 of 9 on three point attempts. It was as impressive as a defensive performance against a talented team that we’ve seen in a while. Utah’s defense has been solid all season, but tonight was great. On offense, the Utes shot 50%, and 53% from three. Utah only turning the ball over 10 times on the game is huge too, which wouldn’t allow the Wildcats to get into transition and score easy baskets.
Nice win by the Utes. It will be interesting to see if the Utes can continue to build off this recent momentum, and see if they can’t cause some more damage in the league, since there really is no “giant” in the Pac-12 right now. These next three to four weeks will be interesting to see how they finish out.
Utah is now 3-14 all-time against Arizona since joining the Pac-12 with all three of those wins coming at home … Timmy Allen is moves to 29th in the all-time scoring list at Utah with his 18 points, moving his total to 1,145 points … the Utah defense played great in the second-half, holding the wildcats to just 28.6-percent (8-of-28) shooting from the field … Utah once again held the opposing team’s best player below their average, this time keeping Arizona’s James Akinjo to just 10 points on 2-of-5 shooting.
Utah will get a few extra days rest with its game on Sunday, Feb. 7, against Arizona State postponed before heading to the Bay Area to take on California (Feb. 11) and Stanford (Feb. 13).