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No. 10 Arizona riding high, Utah’s house of horrors awaits

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No. 10 Arizona delivered a dominant display of team basketball as the lead-in to Saturday’s Pac-12 contest against Utah.

That 47-point triumph isn’t the best news for the Utes, who attempt to break a 12-game skid in Tucson, Ariz., when they visit the Wildcats on Saturday night.

Utah (11-3, 2-1 Pac-12) hasn’t won on Arizona’s home floor since posting a 68-67 victory on Dec. 6, 1986. That’s so long ago that the Utes played in the Western Athletic Conference and Arizona’s roster included Sean Elliott and future baseball standout Kenny Lofton.

The Utes are hoping to avoid another 0-2 Arizona road swing. Utah began the trip by losing 82-70 at Arizona State on Thursday.

Before the team left Salt Lake City, Utah coach Craig Smith acknowledged the program’s problems at finding wins in the state of Arizona.

“When you look at the history, it’s been a long, long, long, long, long time since we’ve won at Arizona, and it’s been since 2019 since we’ve won at Arizona State,” Smith said. “So, this has been a very difficult road trip for the Utes historically, and we’re gonna have to play awfully well.”

Thursday’s Tempe setback snapped Utah’s eight-game winning streak.

Arizona (11-3, 2-1) played a stellar game Thursday night while dismantling visiting Colorado 97-50.

The Wildcats never trailed and led by as many as 50 points.

Arizona shot 56.3 percent from the field and made 11 of 20 from behind the arc. The Wildcats had a 45-25 rebounding advantage.

The effort was a complete turnaround from Arizona’s disappointing 100-82 road loss against Stanford on Sunday.

“Look at some of shots we made, banking in 3s and things like that,” Wildcats coach Tommy Lloyd said. “That happens. We were on the other side of that (four) days ago and we flipped that.”

Pelle Larsson had 18 points and seven rebounds to pace Arizona. He wasn’t surprised that his team bounced back in such a boisterous manner.

“I think we’ve usually done a good job of responding in games like this,” Larsson said. “We’ve been working hard and really taking a step back and redoing some things. Looks like it’s working, so we gotta stick to that.”

Caleb Love had 16 points and Motiejus Krivas added 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting and collected nine rebounds for the Wildcats. Kylan Boswell made four 3-pointers while registering 14 points.

Arizona looked more like the team that opened the season with eight straight wins and reached No. 1 in the nation. Arizona won at Duke and also beat Michigan State and Wisconsin during the run.

But the Wildcats lost to then-No. 3 Purdue 92-84 on a neutral floor on Dec. 16 to start a stretch of three defeats in five games.

“I think maybe we got a little worn down, physically and emotionally, and it’s hard to trend up all the time,” Lloyd said. “But it don’t mean a lot if we don’t respond again on Saturday.”

The Wildcats have won the past three home meetings against the Utes by an average of 20 points, including last season’s 88-62 victory.

Utah will attempt to bounce back from a loss to Arizona State in which it committed 15 turnovers and was 7 of 22 from 3-point range.

Standout big man Branden Carlson had 19 points and eight rebounds for the Utes.

Craig Smith was unhappy with the defense that allowed the Sun Devils to shoot 50 percent from the field, including 12 of 28 from 3-point range.

“At the end of the day, when you allow a team to shoot 50 percent, more times than not this is the outcome that you’re going to have,” he said. “We have to be way better on the defensive end.”

–Field Level Media

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