UA HOOPS

Arizona 60, Utah 57: All too close for comfort

Wildcats survive again as Utah's rally ends with last-second miss
2013-01-06T00:00:00Z 2014-08-01T11:23:30Z Arizona 60, Utah 57: All too close for comfortBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 06, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Despite a slight twist to their recurring dream Saturday, the Arizona Wildcats woke up undefeated. Again.

While Arizona pulled out comeback wins against Florida, San Diego State and Colorado over the previous three weeks, this time the Wildcats led Utah the entire game but had to hang on for a 60-57 win at McKale Center.

Fittingly, perhaps, UA avoided overtime only after Utah's Jarred DuBois lined up for a three-pointer at nearly the same spot that Colorado's Sabatino Chen did on Thursday.

Chen, as the college basketball world knows, launched that now-famous three-point bank shot that officials disallowed, saying he did so after time expired, allowing the Wildcats a chance to beat the Buffaloes in overtime.

This time, DuBois, who entered the game as Utah's best three-point shooter, launched a three-pointer with three seconds left. It bounced off the rim and off the backboard before falling to the floor without dropping through the basket.

Kevin Parrom grabbed the rebound and the game was over. No. 3 Arizona was 14-0 overall and 2-0 in the Pac-12.

They were still undefeated. For now.

"We pulled out another lucky one," Parrom said. "We've been lucky for a couple of weeks now, but our luck is going to run out soon."

It might Thursday at Oregon, or Saturday at Oregon State. But there is time to work before then, and UA coach Sean Miller can't wait get back to practice.

Miller said the Wildcats needed the three solid days of practice they will have Monday through Wednesday before heading to Oregon.

Among the tasks on hand: three-point percentage defense, after UA allowed Utah to make 7 of 16 from beyond the arc, and figuring out how to be more efficient against a deliberate opponent such as Utah who can test the Wildcats' patience.

There may also be a little bit of overconfidence to worry about. Maybe that was to be expected from a team that kept pulling out game after game, with a few stops here and there, some Mark Lyons free throws and a little Nick Johnson athleticism.

"I think we expected to win by 20 because it was Utah," Parrom said.

But the Wildcats had been warned. They trailed a much-worse Utah team by 13 points at McKale Center last season before winning, and their overtime scare against Colorado on Thursday could have opened their eyes to how difficult conference play might be even for a team that went 12-0 in nonconference play.

This one could do the trick.

"Today was more of a concern to me than anything," Miller said. "We certainly put ourselves in a position that, with better play, we didn't need to be in."

The Wildcats built a quick 13-5 lead thanks to seven early points from freshman Brandon Ashley, and led 30-23 at halftime. But just eight seconds into the second half, a major warning sign appeared: Utah center Jason Washburn broke inside for a wide-open dunk, then returned for a layup 37 seconds later, and the margin was cut to just three points.

Arizona built its lead back up to 10 points but never led by more than two baskets in the final eight minutes of game.

So, once again, it took another mad scramble, and more clutch play from Lyons, for the Wildcats to get it done.

A three-pointer from Cedric Martin cut UA's lead to 58-57 heading into the final minute and a 25-foot three-pointer from Johnson bounced off the rim on UA's ensuing possession.

Utah then called a timeout with 16 seconds left to set up a final play. But DuBois missed a three-pointer at the top of the key. Lyons grabbed the rebound and was fouled by Utah's Jordan Loveridge.

Lyons then sank both free throws to give UA a 60-57 lead with seven seconds left.

It was the third straight game in which Lyons hit a pair of clutch free throws down the stretch, having done so to give UA the winning margin against San Diego State and to tie the Colorado game at 80 on Thursday.

Solomon Hill, the Wildcats' leading scorer with 19 points, said Lyons "stayed with it" despite being frustrated with his game (Lyons was 3 for 14 from the field) while Miller, again, praised Lyons for coming through when it mattered most.

"Mark Lyons didn't have a particularly good day of shooting but making clutch free throws is not an easy thing, and he's made them now for 14 straight games," Miller said. "One of the reasons why we're here undefeated is his clutch play, especially from the line."

After Lyons hit the free throws, Johnson was able to foul before Utah reached midcourt, and the Utes inbounded from the sidelines with 4.2 seconds left.

Miller said Arizona intended to foul again before Utah had a chance to get in shooting position, but the Wildcats failed to do so and DuBois launched the potential game-tying three-pointer.

"We don't want to let them get that shot off," Miller said. "It wasn't a great shot but it could have tied the game."

But it didn't. Utah dropped to 8-6 and 0-2, suffering its second straight heartbreaker after an overtime loss at ASU on Wednesday.

UA, meanwhile, moved on with yet another lesson learned, a slightly different and more alarming one than those from the close calls before.

"I think what we're trying to do is play really well," Miller said. "The San Diego State game was a really hard-fought game and if you were there you got the sense that there were two really tough-minded, hard-playing teams. One was going to lose and one wasn't.

"Against Colorado, there was a large part of that game where we were outplayed but we were resilient and near the end we were the better team.

"(Today) our level of play wasn't very good."

Up next

• Who: Arizona at Oregon

• When: 7 p.m. Thursday

• TV: ESPN2

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Arizona 0 0 0 0.000 12 1 0 0.923
Washington 0 0 0 0.000 11 0 0 1.000
California 0 0 0 0.000 10 2 0 0.833
Oregon 0 0 0 0.000 9 3 0 0.750
Utah 0 0 0 0.000 9 2 0 0.818
UCLA 0 0 0 0.000 8 4 0 0.667
Arizona State 0 0 0 0.000 8 5 0 0.615
Colorado 0 0 0 0.000 7 4 0 0.636
USC 0 0 0 0.000 7 4 0 0.636
Stanford 0 0 0 0.000 7 3 0 0.700
Oregon State 0 0 0 0.000 7 3 0 0.700
Washington State 0 0 0 0.000 5 6 0 0.455

AP Top 25


Pac-12 basketball schedule

Teams Date Time
Harvard at
Arizona State
12/28 12:00 pm
Cal State-Bakersfield at
California
12/28 1:30 pm
Cal-Davis at
Washington State
12/28 4:00 pm
UCLA at
Alabama
12/28 4:30 pm
Stony Brook at
Washington
12/28 6:00 pm
Arkansas-Pine Bluff at
Stanford
12/29 9:00 pm
Cal-Irvine at
Oregon
12/29 9:00 pm
UC-Santa Barbara at
Oregon State
12/30 7:30 pm
Carroll (Mont.) at
Utah
12/30 7:30 pm
Vermont at
USC
12/30 9:30 pm
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