Arizona improved to 14-2 on Thursday night with a 66-56 victory over Utah. Here’s a closer look at what happened.
Player of the Game:
Dusan Ristic - The big man dominated once again for Arizona. Ristic was instrumental in the Wildcats' victory over Utah as he finished with 18 points and eight rebounds on the night. Arizona's guards could not get him the ball much early, but once they did the junior was almost automatic, making seven of his ten shots and four of five from the free throw line. Ristic is gaining momentum by the game and is looking like a offensive force as Arizona heads into the home stretch of the season.
* The game started slow for the Wildcats who fell behind with an early 15-10 deficit. Arizona quickly turned that around with an 8-0 run anchored by a Chance Comanche dunk in traffic. Kobi Simmons started the run with a three pointer after Rawle Alkins muscled down an offensive rebound. Alkins was relayed in kind by scoring on a reverse layup the next time down the court while also picking up the foul.
* Arizona continued to put some distance between itself and Utah at the end of the first half. A solid defensive play from Comanche turned away the Utes with just seconds remaining. Jackson-Cartwright took the ball himself and nailed a floater from the free throw line as the halftime buzzer sounded to give the Wildcats a 35-27 lead heading into the break.
* With just under four minutes remaining in the game, Arizona put it away for good. Ristic got the ball at the top of the key and drew his defender in. With a move towards the lane, Utah's defense collapsed and the center was able to find Alkins in the corner for a three ball, putting the Wildcats up 58-48.
The game started out slow for the Wildcats and it was rough to watch as the guards refused to get Ristic the ball down low despite his excellent starts in the previous two games. Utah came out in a 2-3 zone, which Arizona got a heavy dose of last week, but seemed timid against the Utes. Eventually the Wildcats got things going, but it seemed odd that Ristic wouldn't get more touches early in the game especially with the way he played once they got him more involved in the offense.
It was pretty clear from the moment he checked into the game that Parker Jackson-Cartwright was on a mission. Proving that he is clearly the best point guard option for Arizona, the junior finished the game with 9 assists and 0 turnovers. Jackson-Cartwright was limited in his scoring, but made up for it with terrific court vision. While it still seems that the point guard is a half a step slow on defense, he did a decent job defending his Utah counterparts.
Sean Miller Quotable:
“Dusan, he’s really good on offense right now,” Miller said. “I mean, you get him the ball and good things are happening. To watch his development is fun because there isn’t a better kid playing college basketball than him. He’s worked hard."
"With Parker coming back, we have a new dimension to our game," Ristic said. "We move the ball much better. It felt like he had 15 assists."