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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

No. 22 Utah defeats No. 9 Arizona 70-64

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Tyler Baker
Arizona center Chance Comanche (21) gets a high-five from assistant coach Emanuel Richardson on Thursday, Jan. 28 in McKale Center. The Wildcats avoided losing three straight by pouncing Oregon State 80-63 on Saturday.

SALT LAKE CITY — As Arizona’s starting five took the court to open the second half on Saturday against Utah, Ryan Anderson was missing from the group.

Anderson and the No. 9 Wildcats had just participated in another first half that fell well short of head coach Sean Miller’s defensive standards, so Miller benched the senior.

In his place stood freshman Chance Comanche.

Miller got his message across — Arizona played better defense following intermission — but the Wildcats once again came up short on the road, falling to Utah 70-64.

Down 66-64 with just over a minute remaining, Utah’s Jordan Loveridge released a deep 3-pointer that bounced off the rim and dribbled to the Utes’ free-throw line.

None of the five Arizona players on the court were able to track down the loose ball. Instead, Jakob Poeltl kept the Utah offensive possession alive.

20 seconds later, Brandon Taylor pushed Gabe York to open space on the perimeter before draining a 3-pointer to put Utah ahead 69-64.

York frantically answered on the other end with a quick 3-point attempt. It bounced off the rim, Utah’s Poeltl collected the rebound and the Utes held on for the win.

“Usually when you’re good but not great, you’re close but not quite there, it’s those single plays that you think about,” Miller said. “Those single plays have really favored the other team.”

The Utah win pushed Larry Krystkowiak’s team to 12-5 in Pac-12 Conference play, while Arizona fell to 10-6 — all but eliminating the UA’s hopes of winning the league regular season title.

For the Wildcats, Allonzo Trier led the way with 23 points. Anderson also reached double digits in scoring with 11.

But it was Comanche, the lengthy, 6-foot-11 big man, who spurred a second half run and put Arizona in contention.

The Beverly Hills, California, native only scored four points, but made his presence felt on the other end by blocking a pair of shots and banging with Pac-12 Player of the Year frontrunner Poeltl.

In the first seven minutes of the second half, a 40-29 Arizona deficit turned into a 49-47Arizona lead, all with Comanche on the floor.

“I thought Chance Comanche was really the silver lining today,” Miller said. “What we really need isn’t another 3-point shooter or somebody who can score. We need somebody who can block a shot, rebound, play with energy.”

Miller, who said that Comanche has played both the four and five spots in practice, considered giving Comanche action against Colorado but held off until Saturday.

The Wildcats were coming off a first half in which they allowed Utah to shoot 60 percent from the field.

A bulk of Utah’s scoring came in the point. When Kaleb Tarczewski picked up his second foul midway through the first half, the Utes were able to exploit the mismatch of Poeltl on Dusan Ristic and Anderson.

After the game, Miller referred to Anderson as a “godsend” but acknowledged the senior isn’t where he needs to be in terms of defensive effort.

“We’ve been on him for a long, long time,” Miller said. “It hasn’t changed. He’s got to play better defense for a team really to have a stretch to have a chance down the stretch of finishing strong. He knows that.”


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