Postgame Analysis: Arizona vs Utah

Arizona made a statement with it's 69-51 victory over Utah on Saturday. Read on to find out more about the win, including key moments, the co-players of the game, and more.

Arizona made a statement with its 69-51 victory over Utah on Saturday night. Here’s a closer look at what happened:

Arizona Co-Players of the Game:

Stanley Johnson – It started out looking like a rough night for Johnson as he headed to halftime with two fouls, no points, and no rebounds. The second half was more his speed and he burned Utah for 18 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double in the second half alone. It was a big time performance in a big game.

T.J. McConnell – The game wasn’t won on just Johnson’s shoulders. McConnell kept the Wildcats in the game with 12 first half points, hitting six of his seven shots and dishing out two assists to big men down low. In the second half, he only added four points, but picked up four more assists as he allowed his team to open things up.

Key Moments:

  • Utah set the pace of the game early on. Arizona was forced to call a timeout just two minutes in after the Utes opened up a 4-0 lead while the Wildcats missed their first three shots.

    The timeout didn’t seem to work, as Utah opened up a quick 10-2 lead with the help of several low-percentage shots falling. Arizona didn’t help itself either, shooting just one of seven from the field with two turnovers during a six minute stretch to open the game.

  • With just over eight minutes left in the first half, Stanley Johnson picked up his second foul and was forced to sit. With his offense off the floor, T.J. McConnell continued to take over the game, hitting a short jumper and then stealing a pass and getting fouled. McConnell followed it up by dishing a perfect pass to Brandon Ashley, who got fouled and made both free throws to cut the lead to just one.

  • Johnson opened the second half making his presence known. The shooting guard drained a three pointer and then took it hard to the basket, picking up the foul as he made the bucket. It was a quick five points that gave the Wildcats a 40-32 lead. Moments later, he added a steal and a dunk to put his team up ten.

  • Arizona continued to pull away from Utah with buckets by McConnell, Johnson, and Dusan Ristic. With just under twelve minutes to go, the Wildcats had built a solid 15-point lead.

  • Utah hit a few shots to cut the lead to just ten, but Arizona stepped up its defense and went on an 11-0 run to seal the victory. Johnson hit back-to-back buckets, Elliott Pitts added two with a tough drive to the basket, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson put in three free throws and Brandon Ashley threw down an exclamation point dunk to get McKale Center rocking.

    Stats of the Night:

    17 - For the second straight game, the Arizona Wildcats dominated the offensive glass and the rebounding margin in general. Arizona came away with 17 offensive rebounds and held the Utes to just four. Overall, the Wildcats grabbed 40 boards, while Utah managed to grab just 19.

    Coming into the game, Utah was averaging 8.7 rebounds more than their opponents and came away being outrebounded by 21.

    General Thoughts:

  • Stanley Johnson and T.J. McConnell were the players of the game, but Arizona doesn’t win this game without the contributions from Brandon Ashley and Elliott Pitts. Ashley played his most motivated game of the year and maybe his career in Tucson. He was bullied for the first few minutes of the first half, but the switch flipped on and the forward began fighting hard for every rebound and offensive possession.

    Pitts was only one for three with a layup in traffic, but his contributions came entirely on the defensive end of the court. He was one of many that were responsible for shutting down Delon Wright and it was a breakout game for him and his defensive ability.

  • There is a lot to be said about the way that Arizona has played the last two games. The strange feeling that surrounded the team following the Colorado win was nowhere to be felt in this win. Even when the Wildcats trailed early in the game, they never looked beat and never looked down. It shouldn’t be considered a turning point in the season, but the Arizona team that showed up the last two games can hang with any team in the country.

    Sean Miller Quotable:

    ”We’ve been the hunted now for two and a half years,” Sean Miller said. “Any loss that we’ve had here on the road, the court has been stormed. Every time that we play against a team, there has been some streak that is on the line. We have to, as as staff, be aware that it can’t be a burden. You know if we win, you’re relieved, and if we lose, it’s like ‘Can you believe we lost? We stink’.

    ”Where I’ve been disappointed is that there have been a few instances where we didn’t play with enough effort or intensity. Today, we played with effort and intensity and that byproduct of that was a great performance.”

    Wildcat Quotable:

    ”It all starts with defense for me.,” Stanley Johnson said. “In the first half, I got two cheap ones and that is on me. I didn’t like it at all, but it happens. Through the half, we were winning and T.J. was playing great.

    "You have to keep your head in the game and not worry about the fouls, that’s what Coach Miller told me. I think I saw a few creases and gaps, but it was early in the game, so we didn’t want to push it too much.”

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