Arizona had a double-digit lead, then let it slip away before outlasting Utah in the final few minutes. Our full recap can be read here.
The Wildcats have won six straight now, and here are some positive and negative takeaways from their most recent victory.
In the first half, Arizona connected on seven of nine 3-point attempts. By the end of the game, they were 10-of-16.
All five of Arizona’s players made at least one three-point attempt, including Dusan Ristic who led the way with three.
Arizona’s hot shooting allowed it to overcome other areas that it struggled in like turnovers and free-throw shooting.
If there’s a game MVP trophy, there is no doubt in anybody’s mind that it should be going to Dusan Ristic.
The 7-foot senior from Serbia was lights out for the Wildcats, scoring on 9-of-11 attempts, including 3-of-3 from 3-point range for 23 points.
But that’s not it. With just under two minutes left in the game, Ristic nailed his third 3 to secure his 1000th career point, becoming the 52nd Wildcat reach that milestone.
It’s seemed that every game that passes by this conference season, Ristic has had a better performance than his previous.
While Arizona’s defense did allow 73 points and committed a ton of fouls (more on that later), Utah only shot 44 percent and the Wildcats were able to limit the Utes to just five points in the last five minutes to seal the game.
“There were a lot of fouls called on our defense. Sometimes what you think in the emotion of the game and what you see when you are (watching the film), you kind of see that they were right. We’ll have to take a look at it,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said.
“But fouling has plagued our defense. That’s one thing I know. We have to get better at that, but it was a tough game. Playing through that, not letting it steal your confidence and mind, we did a good job of that.
“We entered that last four minute segment and that might have been our best basketball of the second half. Both on offense and defense. We got some stops that we needed.”
So as just mentioned, Arizona’s inability to defend without fouling was an issue, and it probably is what kept Utah in the game.
Arizona committed 22 fouls, including four from Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Dusan Ristic and five from Allonzo Trier.
Utah turned all those fouls into 18 made free throws. Arizona made six.
Five points. That is all Arizona’s bench scored against Utah. Those five points all came in the first half, and from one player only — Brandon Randolph.
Compare that to Utah, which scored 37 bench points behind Sedrick Barefield who tallied 26.
The lack of depth in Arizona’s offense could prove costly as the season goes by.
But I can give the Wildcats the benefit of the doubt for now since they played this game without Rawle Alkins who is sidelined with foot soreness.
The “other things” on offense
Arizona shot a ridiculously high percentage, but did not do the little things on offense very well.
When the clock struck triple zeroes at the end of the game, Arizona had zero second-chance points, just two offensive rebounds, and 15 turnovers.
The Wildcats were also just 6-11 from the line.
“We only scored six points from the foul line tonight and we had two second shots, which I would say were both potentially season lows for us,” Miller said.
“But we made up for it because we shot 64 percent. And I would say out of the 15 turnovers, six or seven of them were offensive fouls. So that’s tough to play through the offensive fouls and 15 turnovers seems like a lot, but when you factor in how we got them, that took away some good scoring opportunities for us.”