SALT LAKE CITY – The Arizona Wildcats didn’t make it easy on themselves but hung on to beat Utah 68-64 and snap a two-game losing streak today at the Huntsman Center.
Arizona shot 50 percent from the field in the first half while taking a 33-25 halftime lead but made just 1 of 10 three-pointers in the second half as the Utes tied the game with 7:28 to go and hung around from there.
The chief of all the craziness was UA point guard Mark Lyons, who led the Wildcats in scoring with 18 points. Lyons made some bold drives for critical layups late in the game but also missed three-pointers shortly after many of them. Lyons finished with just 1 of 9 three pointers and five turnovers to his five assists.
Brandon Ashley, coming off the bench while Kevin Parrom started, and Solomon Hill added 10 points each for the Wildcats.
Arizona’s win moved the Wildcats to 21-4 overall and 9-4 in the Pac-12, while Utah is now 10-14 and 2-10. Arizona is tied for second place with UCLA in the Pac-12, a game behind Oregon.
Arizona built leads of up to 13 points early in the second half but Utah went on a 12-3 run to tie the game at 51 and kept it close the rest of the way.
In the first half, Hill had eight points and six rebounds while the Arizona Wildcats climbed to a 33-25 halftime lead.
The Wildcats shot 50 percent from the field while holding Utah to just 37 percent and forcing nine turnovers by the Utes. However, UA had eight turnovers of its own.
Discouraged by his team’s slow starts in recent games, UA coach Sean Miller replaced Ashley with Parrom in the starting lineup. Parrom was only a limited factor but Ashley scored on UA’s first two possessions once he did enter the games and totaled six points and two rebounds for the half.
Ashley finished the game with 10 points, four rebounds and four steals.
The Wildcats avoided their slow start, taking a 5-4 lead over Utah at the first media timeout and gradually pulled further ahead. UA scored seven straight points, including a three-pointer from Lyons, to take a 28-17lead with six minutes left.
However, Utah outscored the Wildcats over the final minutes of the half, including a final sequence when UA turned the ball over and Utah’s Brandon Taylor skirted the baseline for a layup to cut Arizona’s lead to just eight points before the half.