Make that six in a row.
The first half of this game was quite exciting, with neither team able to carve out a lead larger than a possession or two. The Wildcats led 33-32 at halftime, and despite a bit of a drought to end the half, there was reason for optimism.
The game remained a dogfight well into the second half, but around the 10-minute mark, Utah turned on the jets for an 18-2 run to pull away.
The Utes scored 52 points and shot 59 percent in the second half. Sedrick Barefield put up 15 points and six assists, but the real story was Parker Van Dyke, who drained seven 3s to lead Utah with a team-high 23 points.
Arizona’s six-game losing streak is just one of the many things ailing the program right now. The FBI continues to hover over Tucson, and assistant Mark Phelps was recently fired for an alleged NCAA violation.
On top of that, the injury and transfer bug has bitten a team that had already had very little depth to begin with. Emmanuel Akot opted to transfer midseason, and arguably the two best players on the team, Chase Jeter and Brandon Williams, have been dealing with injury.
Jeter played against Utah, but Williams remains out, missing his fourth straight game.
Williams’ replacement, Dylan Smith, proved himself capable. He took 14 field goal attempts, and finished with a somewhat inefficient 16 points, as he went 0-for-6 from deep.
Ryan Luther was the only other starter to hit double figures, notching 14 on a more reasonable 5-for-9 from the field, including 4-for-6 from three.
For the first time in a while, and mostly out of necessity, Arizona’s bench had plenty of time to shine in Huntsman Center.
Ira Lee and Alex Barcello had 11 and 12 points, respectively, and Lee led the team with eight rebounds. Devonaire Doutrive, who’s finally found himself on the court during the losing streak, added six points and six boards, following his double-double in last weekend’s ugly loss to Washington State.
Brandon Randolph’s struggles continued, limited to two points for the second straight game.
The loss puts Arizona at 14-11 and with a hard-to-look-at 5-7 record in Pac-12 play. Even Arizona’s NIT bid may be in serious danger at this point. The Wildcats haven’t missed both the NCAA Tournament and NIT since Sean Miller’s first season in 2009-10.
Things don’t get easier for the ‘Cats, despite the Pac-12’s atrocious reputation this season. Sunday, Arizona will play a Colorado team that just beat ASU on Wednesday and is riding a four-game winning streak.