As the clock ticked down on the Arizona Wildcats' 70-64 loss to the Utah Utes, a running gag for this season happened again. Arizona started off poorly on the road before picking it up in the second half. They would have opportunities to tie or take the lead but, once again, Arizona is allergic to clutch situations. In our five questions with Block U, Shane Roberts said the Utes were due, and he predicted a 66-62 victory -- he was almost spot on with his prediction. With the win, Utah has its first victory over Arizona since the 1998 Elite Eight and it can still win the Pac-12 regular season crown.
Down 40-29 at the half, Arizona would go on a run in the second half and briefly take the lead before a back-and-forth match ensued. The Wildcats had an opportunity down 66-64, but the Wildcats allowed an offensive rebound and Brandon Taylor crossed Gabe York to the floor and nailed a three with 41 seconds to put the game out of reach.
After Ryan Anderson hit two free throws to give Arizona a 64-63 lead, Arizona would not score again as Utah made many backbreaking plays, such as Taylor's three.
Allonzo Trier was the leading-scorer for Arizona as he put up 23 points and kept the game from getting out of hand with timely baskets. Ryan Anderson complemented him with 11 points but, unfortunately, they were the only Wildcats in double-figures.
Jakob Poeltl may have won the big-man matchup over Kaleb Tarczewski with 14 points and 10 rebounds but Zeus more than held his own. Zeus had nine points, 10 rebounds, and three big-time rejections for the Wildcats. He was certainly one of the few bright spots for Arizona.
Guard play was Arizona's downfall as Gabe York, Parker Jackson-Cartwright, and Kadeem Allen shot 6-24 combined and had six turnovers to five assists. They were also below average on the defensive end as Utah's backcourt tandem of Brandon Taylor and Lorenzo Bonam badly outplayed them. Taylor had 19 points off 7-9 shooting while Bonam chipped in with 11 points and four rebounds.
This is the second time Arizona has been swept on the road, with their L.A. trip also resulting in a sweep, and they still have not been able to beat the top Pac-12 teams. Other than the Oregon loss, every Arizona loss this season was one play away from a possible victory and that is what makes it more frustrating. Instead of improving their stock for a top-four seed, the Wildcats could move down to a 6-seed in projections and make March Madness harder for them.
The Wildcats have two games remaining with Cal and Stanford coming to McKale Center, so hopefully they can right the ship and get some momentum before the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas.