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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wildcats overcome Hill ejection, run over short-handed Utes

Conor Barry/The Daily Utah Chron
The Utes lost to the Arizona Wildcats 51-77. This was the first game without the Ute’s leading scorer Josh Watkins.

Solomon Hill wasn’t able to make an impact with any clutch baskets or game-changing blocks against the Utah Utes, but his ejection with 18:14 remaining in the second half might have been just what Arizona needed.

Hill was thrown out of Thursday’s 77-51 win over Utah (4-14, 1-5 Pac-12) for a “flagrant elbow” to the back of the head of Utah’s Cedric Martin. The two were battling for position. Although he appeared woozy after the initial contact, Martin returned to the game just three minutes later.

The Wildcats (13-6, 4-2) hit their next six shots, followed by a 20-6 run over the next six minutes to build a 20-point lead. Hill exited the game with five points, four rebounds and one assist. In Hill’s absence, Arizona got help from its bench, which outscored the Utes’ bench by 30 points.

Arizona found offense by way of the 3-pointer, which helped offset its early struggles. The Wildcats shot 12-of-24 from beyond the arc for the game and picked up their offense in the second half by shooting 58 percent from the floor.

Heeding head coach Sean Miller’s words this week about ball security, the Wildcats had just nine turnovers, well below their season average of 14.8 in Pac-12 games.

The Wildcats lead 33-28 at halftime, but Miller wasn’t happy with the offensive effort from Arizona at that point. Arizona was 12-of-32 from the field. Miller emphasized ball security during the week prior to this game, but Arizona struggled early, racking up six turnovers by halftime. Four of those six belonged to freshman Nick Johnson, but the guard still finished the game with 11 points, four rebounds, one steal and three assists. Johnson was 3-of-4 from 3-point range.

“We’re not playing well,” Miller told Fox Sports Net at halftime. “When you don’t play well on the road it’s hard to win.”

Arizona went on a 12-2 run to build a 10-point lead at the 7:38 mark of the first half, but the Utes had their own 9-2 run to get back in the game.

But Hill’s ejection sparked big games from junior Kevin Parrom, who hit double digits for the first time since he scored 11 points in Arizona’s win over Bryant University on Dec. 22. Parrom hit three 3-pointers and finished with 12 points. Freshman Josiah Turner and senior Kyle Fogg joined Johnson and Parrom with double-digit scoring efforts in Hill’s absence.

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