Arizona defeated Utah on Sunday. Read on for news and notes on how the Wildcats defeated the Utes.
The second half play of two seniors helped Arizona
hold off a very pesky Utah
squad on Sunday. The Wildcats led for most of the contest, but the Utes made several runs throughout the game and were able to keep it competitive for an entire 40 minutes.
UA received a boost down the stretch from a pair of contributors – both of whom were struggling in the first half -- and was able to come away with a 68-64 victory.
The Wildcats forced Utah to beat them from the outside and the strategy was ultimately successful. The Utes shot relatively well from three-point land (7-for-16 as a team), but UA's defense made it difficult for Utah to find open looks at the basket from anywhere closer on the floor.
The defense -- combined with aggressive play on the offensive end of the floor – allowed UA to hold off Utah and avoid another disappointing loss.
The Utes made just 14 out of 37 shot attempts from inside the three-point line. The Wildcats defense was aggressive and while their execution wasn't always perfect, they attacked more than they reacted on the defensive end of the floor and it forced the Utes into low-percentage shots. Their approach on defense also forced Utah into committing 15 turnovers as a team.
Mark Lyons had an interesting game on Sunday. On one hand, he shot poorly from the outside (1-for-9 from three-point range) and turned the ball over five times. On the other, he was one of the primary reasons why UA was able to hold off Utah down the stretch.
The senior scored 13 of his game-high 18 points in the second half and was most effective when he broke down Utah's defense off the dribble. To add to his scoring output, Lyons also dished out five assists during Sunday afternoon's affair.
Kevin Parrom started as UA went with a small lineup on Sunday, but struggled in the first half. The second half was a completely different story for the senior forward, however, as his play was vital for the Wildcats over the final 20 minutes.
Parrom scored all nine of his points, dished out all three of his assists and grabbed eight of his nine rebounds over the final 20 minutes of the contest. It took a while for Parrom to get comfortable, but he was able to come through when his team needed him the most.
Brandon Ashley was forced to come off the bench on Sunday after changes were made, but he ended up coming through with one of his better recent performances. The freshman knocked down four out of his five field goal attempts and finished with 10 points in 22 minutes of action.
He also grabbed four rebounds, dished out an assist and displayed strong defense by coming up with three steals. Ashley appeared comfortable coming off the bench and responded well in a new role, so it wouldn't be surprising to see Sean Miller use him in the same manner going forward.
On top of the performance from Ashley, the other two freshmen that saw action performed efficiently as well. The trio of Ashley, Grant Jerrett and Kaleb Tarczewski combined to go 10-for-14 from the floor, score 25 points, grab nine rebounds, collect three steals and block a shot. All three showed flashes of excellence at specific points in the contest and if they can continue to put forth that sort of collective effort together consistently, UA becomes a very tough team for anyone to knock off.
Solomon Hill reached double figures with 10 points. He didn't shoot very well from the floor (4-for-11 overall), but he was a big factor in the paint, where he pulled down eight rebounds and blocked a pair of shots.
Nick Johnson continues to struggle scoring, but he was able to pick up the slack in other areas on Sunday. The sophomore's strong defense returned as he came up with four steals and he was a factor on the glass, picking up four rebounds. Johnson also did a solid job facilitating when he needed to, dishing out four assists without turning the ball over once.
Take away Arizona's sub-par performance from beyond the arc and it actually shot the ball extremely well. The Wildcats were aggressive on offense and their assertiveness led to an efficient 61.3 shooting percentage inside the three-point line.
While their outside shooting struggled, they played smart basketball and were able to find open looks at the basket from close and mid-range.