TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) – Arizona escaped with an intense 84-81 overtime win over Utah on Saturday, an outcome that had a lot to do with who wasn’t playing at the end.
“One of the keys to us winning was Sedrick Barefield fouling out,” Wildcats coach Sean Miller said. “… Fouling him out really changed the game down the stretch and in overtime.”
Barefield scored 26 points, including 5 of 9 3-pointers, but fouled out with 1:44 to play.
“He’s a tremendous player,” Miller said, “If he didn’t foul out, he would have crossed the 30 threshold again.”
Brandon Randolph scored six of his 21 points in overtime for the Wildcats (11-4, 2-0 Pac-12). Chase Jeter had 21 points and 13 rebounds. Dylan Smith and Brandon Williams added 11 points apiece.
Donnie Tillman added 21 for the Utes, who were 11 of 21 from 3-point range.
“Those are the type of games that we all sign up for when we come to Arizona,” Jeter said. “To be able to have that toughness and the will and the fight from everybody to close that game out in overtime was big for us.”
Neither team could build a significant lead in back-and-forth contest that featured 12 lead changes and 15 ties.
“Our guys battled and it was a heck of a college basketball game,” Utah coach Larry Krystowiak said.
But he lamented his team’s “18 kind of mindless turnovers.”
Both teams muffed chances in the final minute of regulation. With the game tied at 72-72, Tillman forced a shot in traffic, then Justin Coleman missed badly on a floater for Arizona. Utah turned it over when Tim Allen couldn’t handle Tillman’s pass and Coleman, still recovering from a dislocated shoulder, missed a long 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Arizona carved a 78-74 lead in overtime but Parker Van Dyke sank a 3 with his first shot to cut it to 78-77. Williams’ two free throws made it 80-77 but Tillman’s three-point play put Utah ahead 81-80 with 1:12 left. Randolph’s driving layup put Arizona ahead for good 82-81. But after a jump ball gave Arizona possession, Williams missed two free throws with 33.5 seconds left.
Krystowiak called a timeout and got the ball to Van Dyke, whose 3-point try bounced off the rim twice but wouldn’t fall.
“I’ll take that shot any day,” the Utah coach said. “Putting Parker in a position to shoot a 3. They gave him room and he is one of our better shooters. I thought it was in, he thought it was in.”
Arizona rebounded and Randolph sank two from the foul line with 1.6 seconds left for the final margin.
Utah fell to 1-13 against Arizona since joining the Pac-12. The Utes have never won in Tucson since joining the conference.
Barefield and Both Gach each sank 3s in a 10-0 run that put Utah up 20-10. Arizona scored the next nine, though, capped by Smith’s 3-pointer, and nobody led by more than six points after that.
A pair of inside baskets by Jeter had Arizona up 36-33 with 1:29 to play but Barefield’s fourth 3 – in as many tries – made it a 36-36 game at the half.
Barefield made 7 of 9 shots in the first half, 4 of 5 3s, for 19 points.
“He had a heck of a game,” Krystowiak said, “and without him for the last seven minutes of the game or so, we had to get a little bit creative, but our guys did a nice job of battling it out. That meant a lot to me that we didn’t fold it up.”
Utah might well have won this one had Barefield not fouled out and the Utes, who beat Arizona State, are going to be a handful for whoever faces them. Miller called the Utes “a team on the rise.”
Arizona doesn’t have the marquee names of past squads but the Wildcats are winning anyway. They have to be considered contenders now in what looks to be a wide-open Pac-12 race. But Miller said it’s going to be tough for this Arizona team, home and away.
Utah: plays its Pac-12 home opener Thursday night against Washington
Arizona: is at Stanford on Thursday night.
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