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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


No. 8 Arizona MBB wins triple-overtime thriller against Utah, 20-point blowout over Colorado

Olivia Malone
Arizona’s Caleb Love (2) celebrates the Wildcats’ 97-50 point win against CU Boulder on Jan. 4. This game helped UA secure a third place ranking in the Pac-12 conference.

The No. 8 Arizona men’s basketball team went on the road this week for two games, first meeting the University of Utah on Thursday, Feb. 8, at 6 p.m. in Salt Lake City, where the Wildcats secured a 105-99 victory over the Utes in triple overtime in Jon M. Huntsman Center. 

The Wildcats then traveled to Boulder, Colorado, to take on the University of Colorado, Boulder on Saturday, Feb. 10, at 8 p.m. in CU Events Center, dominating the Buffaloes with a 99-79 win, pushing Arizona to its fifth straight win.

Game 1: Arizona vs. Utah – Thursday, Feb. 8

Arizona managed to gain a 5-0 lead in the opening minutes, with Kylan Boswell sinking a 3-pointer. It wasn’t long until Utah was able to find an answer, going on a 7-0 run and quickly turning it around to 11-10. Out of the first timeout, Arizona regained the lead as shots stopped falling for the Utes, allowing Caleb Love to shoot a 3-pointer and push Arizona’s lead to 22-15. Utah ended its scoring drought with a jumper by Deivon Smith that helped get Utah within 6 points of the Wildcats.

With less than five minutes to go in the first half, a jumper by Jaden Bradley helped the Wildcats obtain a 10-point lead, putting the score at 31-21. Arizona went into halftime leading 41-25,. Keshad Johnson led the first quarter with 9 points and four rebounds, and Arizona also collected five steals, forcing eight Utah turnovers. Utah shot only 32.4% from the field and was two for 10 from the 3-point line in the first quarter. Smith led the Utes in the first half with 6 points, four rebounds and three assists.

Arizona kept its 16-point lead a few minutes into the second quarter until it was chipped away as Gabe Madsen made a shot from beyond the arc, lowering Utah’s  deficit to 10. Branden Carlson then  made a 3-pointer and proceeded to score on a dunk shortly after to bring the score to 56-48.

Utah improved on defense throughout the second half, forcing Arizona to go 36.7% on field goal attempts. Carlson made another 3-pointer to get Utah within 1 point of Arizona as the Utes improved to 8-11 on shots from beyond the arc in the second half. Arizona was unable to reclaim control of the score in the final minutes of the second quarter as Johnson made two free throws to push the lead to five with one minute remaining. Madsen then made a 3-pointer that tied the score at 76 and propelled the game into overtime.

Pelle Larsson gave Arizona its lead on one of the six made collective shots from both teams in the first overtime. Carlson gave Utah the lead off a layup with under two minutes to go in the added regulation, and Love then tied the game at 82 on a layup, forcing a double overtime. 

The Wildcats had a 4-point lead gained from Love making three free throws he was called for. Utah center Keba Keita made two of his free throws with a minute remaining, forcing the third and final overtime with the score sitting at 91.

Shots started to fall for the Wildcats in the third overtime as Love sank a 3-pointer to reclaim control of the 99-93 score. Bradley secured a 9-point lead on a made free throw, giving no room for the Utes to make a comeback. 

Arizona won 105-99 in triple overtime with all starters for the Wildcats scoring in double digits. Larsson achieved a career-high 27 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Love provided 19 points and 10 rebounds while acquiring two blocks as Oumar Ballo made an impact with 16 rebounds and three blocks. Carlson led Utah with 27 points and 15 rebounds and Smith finished with a triple-double, putting up 14 points, 10 assists and 11 rebounds.

Arizona head coach Tommy Lloyd stressed how crucial a road win during this time in the season.

“If you want to compete for a conference championship, you have to be able to compete and win some games on the road […]. I think we’re playing better basketball now, I think we’re building, and I think all these experiences are accumulating, and listen, we’re going into another place on Saturday, that they haven’t lost at home, they have really good players and a good coach it’s going to be tough,” Lloyd said. “You know, we just need to dig down and see if we can find a way.”

Game 2: Arizona vs. Colorado – Saturday, Feb. 10

Arizona went into this game looking for its fifth win in a row, and succeeded with a blowout 99-79 victory over Colorado. The Buffaloes had a 6-point lead at the start of the game but quickly lost consistency in scoring. Larsson made a layup to tie the game at 8-8, and shortly after, Boswell made a 3-pointer to give Arizona the lead that it maintained for the rest of the game. Colorado guard KJ Simpson got within 1 point of tying the game off a jumper halfway through the first quarter as the lead fluctuated when both teams traded turnovers back and forth.

The Wildcats continued to be a few points ahead as Love extended the lead to 28-21 with a 3-pointer, not allowing Colorado to take over. Bradley made a layup off a turnover, pushing the lead to 10 with five minutes left in the quarter. A 3-pointer made by Julian Hammond Ⅲ got the Buffaloes within 7 points, which was as close as they got to the 47-40 score at halftime. Larsson and Love both collected 11 points leading the Wildcats in the first half and Tristan da Silva had 11 points for Colorado.

Arizona kept the lead to double-digits in the second quarter. The Arizona offense came out strong, collectively shooting 54.1% from the field. The Wildcats dominated the second half, quickly building a 20-point lead initiated by Love off a 3-pointer. With Colorado trailing the rest of the way, the deficit shrunk to 14 points with free throws taken by Colorado’s J’Vonne Hadley with under eight minutes to go in regulation. 

Ultimately, Colorado was never able to chip away the score to regain control of the game, giving Arizona its first win in Boulder, Colorado, since 2015. Love led the Wildcats with 19 points going 4-6 from the 3-point line, while Larsson followed with 18 points and three steals. Ballo had 16 points and 13 rebounds, earning his fourth straight double-double. Simpson and Da Silva each scored 20 points to lead Colorado and Simpson also managed to gain nine assists. Three technicals were assigned during the game with one on Johnson and two assigned to Colorado guards Hadley and Simpson.

Lloyd noted that the Wildcats knew the importance of playing well in this matchup against Colorado.

“Nothing different, it was just like, ‘hey we know what we’re playing for […].’ Competing for the league championships is important to us and we knew playing well at Colorado, you know, it’s not make or break, but it goes a long way to helping you so, we knew we had to play good, and our guys respect Colorado. We knew that they’re a dangerous team especially at home so they came out and responded.” Lloyd said when asked about the key to figuring out ways to stay consistent in the second half.

Looking ahead: 

Arizona will return home to get ready for a rivalry matchup against ASU on Saturday, Feb. 17, at 7:30 p.m. in McKale Center.

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