Kriisa's Triple-Double Leads No. 2 Arizona to Win at Utah
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Azuolas Tubelis scored 23 points and Kerr Kriisa had Arizona's first triple-double in 18 years to power the No. 2 Wildcats over Utah 97-77 on Thursday night.
Kriisa had 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, becoming the first Wildcats with a triple-double since Andre Iguodala in February 2004. Dalen Terry and Bennedict Mathurin each scored 14 as Arizona (25-2, 15-1 Pac-12) won its ninth straight game.
Gabe Madsen scored 15 and David Jenkins Jr. added 14 for Utah (11-17, 4-14), which had won back-to-back games for the first time since mid-November.
After Utah took its only lead of the game at 28-27, Arizona finished the half on a 26-5 run that took just 6:12 of game time. The surge included five 3-pointers by Kriisa.
The final shot came from beyond midcourt just before the halftime buzzer which gave the Wildcats a 53-33 at the break. Kriisa held his arms up high as he was mobbed by his teammates.
Arizona did all that without attempting a single free throw in the half.
The Wildcats then scored the first nine points of the second half to put the contest out of reach. Two free throws by Tubelis made it 62-33 with 17:57 remaining.
Kriisa, a sophomore guard from Lithuania who was shooting 33.9% from long range, matched his career high in the first half with seven 3s. In the second half, he focused on hitting the board distributing the ball to help the Wildcats record 24 assists.
Arizona leads the nation in assists (20.4 per game), rebounds (43.1) and assist rate, and followed suit against the Utes.
In nearly every game, the Wildcats have gone on a big run of 10 consecutive points or more and they had a couple of devastating runs against Utah.
Arizona jumped to 8-0 lead on layups and dunks but Utah caught them at 15, bolstered by seven points each from Carlson and Gach. Utah kept it close with dogged defense until the Kriisa-led outburst at the end of the half that blew the game open.
Arizona: As they have done all season, the Wildcats were able to flip a switch and dominate the game with a 35-5 surge bridging the half. Their defense was suffocating and they scored in bunches, primarily in transition - 27 fast-break points and 52 points from the field.
Utah: The Utes have played much better since their historic 10-game losing streak, but they disintegrated against the Wildcats pressure during the game-deciding run.
The Wildcats looked every bit the No. 2 team in the country, especially when they are flying up and down the court for dunks and layups.
Arizona: Plays at Colorado on Saturday night.
Utah: Hosts Arizona State on Saturday night.