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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona Wildcats rally to defeat Utah Utes

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Colin Darland
Colin Darland / Daily Wildcat Arizona freshman guard Nick Johnson, 13, senior guard Kyle Fogg, 21, and senior forward Jesse Perry, 33, ready for a pair of foul shots late in the second half of the Wildcats’ match-up against the Utah Utes in McKale Center on Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Arizona Wildcats men’s basketball team defeated the Utah Utes 70-61 on Saturday in McKale Center. The Wildcats completed a 12-point comeback after being down 41-29 early in the second half.

“I have to give Utah a lot of credit, because their offense, and the number of players that shot the three well, really gave us trouble today,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said.

The Utes shot 50 percent from the floor and from beyond the arc, something that Miller said really got to the confidence level of the Wildcats early on offense. At one point, Arizona went eight minutes without scoring a field goal and was 1-of-11 from the field and 0-for-6 from 3-point land.

“We had zero confidence in the first 20 minutes of the game,” Miller said. “We missed a number of wide open shots, and I was helpless, as a coach. Utah really stole our confidence today, and we are extremely fortunate to come out with the win.”

UA got back into the game via a 15-0 run that tied the game at 43 at the 13:18 mark of the second half. Arizona used four 3-pointers to help their run, sparked by senior Brendon Lavender who had two of the four.

The Utes held the lead the entire game until the Wildcats went on their run. Lavender finished in double figures with 12 points after going 0-for-5 from beyond the arc in the Wildcats’ game against Colorado.

Lavender took over the game when the Wildcats needed it most, but it was freshman Nick Johnson who closed things out for Arizona. The guard hit a 3-pointer to break a tie at 61 with just more than a minute remaining. After starting the game shooting 1-for-6, Johnson hit three straight shots to tie the game before hitting the 3-pointer to give the Wildcats the lead.

Miiler said Johnson was the difference in the game.

“Nick Johnson, in 26 games at Arizona probably played his best game tonight, coming up big for us in the second half and played with the energy we needed in order to get the win,” Miller said.

Arizona had four players in double figures — Johnson with 18 points, junior Solomon Hill with 14 points and senior Kyle Fogg with 17 points and Lavender with 12.

Freshman guard Josiah Turner was held to one point and no shot attempts but dished out seven assists without turning the ball over.

Utah committed two fouls in the last minute and Arizona converted the free throws to give the final score some an extra pad, the last eight minutes of the game were highly contested. The Wildcats and Utes traded baskets until Arizona stepped up its defense and held Utah scoreless for the last five minutes of the game.

Fogg attributed the win to the team’s efforts in the second half.

“Just the growth of our team individually and together,” Fogg said. “We’re playing for that big picture to get the win at the end of the game.”

The Wildcats take on Washington State in Pullman, Wash., on Thursday at 7 p.m.

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