Sometimes the schedule lines up just right.
With a winless trip to the Oregon schools calling into question how good they actually are, the Arizona Wildcats responded with arguably their best performance of the season in a 93-77 blowout of the Utah Utes on Thursday night at McKale Center.
Utah provided the perfect opponent for Arizona (12-5, 2-2 Pac-12) to build confidence against, allowing it to build a double-digit advantage midway through the first half en route to a 52-28 halftime lead, its most points in the opening 20 minutes since scoring 53 at Washington State in a 100-72 win in January 2018.
The Wildcats shot 47.8 percent, including 52.2 percent in the first half, making 15 of 29 3-pointers, their most since the second game of the 2017-18 season. Max Hazzard paced that perimeter attack, hitting 6 of 10 3s for an Arizona career-high 24 points, as eight different UA players hit a triple.
That included Zeke Nnaji, who had 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting with eight rebounds. Nico Mannion hit three 3s as part of his 11 points while Dylan Smith had two triples in contributing 12 points.
.@maxhazzard2 gave a shoutout to @JacobHazzard after making six 3s in Arizona’s win over Utah:— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) January 17, 2020
“Growing up, my brother was probably the best shooter in the family. ... I kinda want to be like big bro, so shoutout to my brother tonight. I felt like him.” pic.twitter.com/csFn6ao0oM
Arizona in no way missed center Chase Jeter, who was held out with back spasms. Fellow senior Stone Gettings was inserted in his place, his first start since his Cornell days, and while he only had seven his presence on the floor spaced things out much better for the rest of the Wildcats to score.
Utah (10-6, 1-3) got 16 points apiece from Riley Battin and Pac-12 scoring leader Timmy Allen, though Allen needed 14 shots and only had six in the first half.
Arizona outrebounded Utah 38-32, improving to 12-1 when it wins the rebounding battle. It also assisted on 23 of 33 made field goals, with Smith dropping six dimes, Mannion dishing out five and Josh Green adding four.
The Wildcats have a short turnaround for their next game, hosting Colorado Saturday at 12:30 p.m. MT. Arizona has won nine straight over the Buffaloes in Tucson, its last loss coming in 1965.