2014 Pac-12 Men's Basketball Tournament second round: No. 1 Arizona routs Utah
LAS VEGAS – Arizona basketball was a Vegas attraction in Thursday's Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinal at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, routing eighth-seeded Utah 71-39 in a performance stacked with crowd-pleasing dunks, alley-oops, and stifling defense.
The first 10 minutes of the game was the warm-up act: Both squads played hard-nosed defense with the occasional highlight on offense. Arizona didn’t reach double digits until a Kaleb Tarczewski free throw made it 10-6 at 10:56.
The Wildcats began acting like headliners a minute later.
T.J. McConnell found Pac-12 Player of the Year Nick Johnson at the left elbow for a three, sparking the Arizona crowd. After Gabe York grabbed a Utah miss, Tarczewski took the ball down the court himself for a booming dunk.
[Related video: Nick Johnson on Wildcats' strong performance]
Another Johnson three from his previous spot came near the end of a 15-0 Arizona run, an eight-minute scoring drought for Utah.
The Wildcats left for the locker room with a 34-13 lead, holding Utah’s leading basket-makers Delon Wright and Jordan Loveridge scoreless in the period. Arizona’s Johnson had 12 first-half points, just one point shy of Utah’s team total. The 13 points Arizona allowed in the half is a Pac-12 tourney record for fewest points allowed in a half.
“They took us out of our offense,” Utah’s Dallin Bachynski said. “The amount of pressure they put on us…they were really putting on a defensive clinic.”
The second half was more of the same: Massive Arizona dunks, fruitless Utah possessions and even some outside shooting from Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Aaron Gordon. As the margin widened between the one-seed and eight-seed, Pac-12 Coach of the Year Sean Miller sent the reserves out one by one without losing momentum.
[Related video: Arizona's Sean Miller talks being ready to play]
“I thought today we had obviously an excellent defensive day,” Miller said. “We were locked in, and what we wanted to do defensively, we were able to do.”
Johnson, McConnell and Gordon all reached double-digit scoring, while Utah’s Dallin Bachynski and Princeton Onwas finished with nine and seven points, respectively.
Arizona moves on to the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals for the fourth consecutive year, taking on the winner of Thursday’s Colorado/Cal matchup. Friday's 6 p.m. PT semifinal will be broadcast on Pac-12 Networks.
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