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SALT LAKE CITY — From the opening tipoff, the Arizona Wildcats took control of the game against a young visiting Utah basketball program in a dominant 93-77 win.
The Wildcats, who came into the game having lost four of their last five games, shook off the rust to get back to their winning ways on a night when Arizona (12-5, 2-2) made 15 3-pointers on 52% shooting from deep. The Wildcats opened up to an early dominant lead behind eight first-half 3-pointers to take a 52-28 halftime lead.
Arizona had two players, Zeke Nnaji and Max Hazzard, who scored in double figures by the halftime break and combined for 25 points on a combined 9-of-12 shooting from the field, including four made 3-pointers by Hazzard. The Wildcats continued the first-half momentum in the second half and built up their largest lead of 27 points late in the game.
The Utes attempted a small comeback in the second half to cut Arizona’s lead to as little as 16 points, but their hopes were short-lived as Arizona maintained its lead. Utah, however, outscored Arizona 49-41 in the second half.
Nnaji, who averages 16.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game as Arizona’s leading scorer, took over the game against Utah and finished with a team-high 24 points and eight rebounds in the win. Hazzard added a season-high 24 points, including a season-high six made 3-pointers on 6-of-8 shooting from deep, and two rebounds.
Utah (10-6, 1-3) entered the game on a two-game losing streak that included a blowout loss on the road to Colorado on Sunday. The Utes struggled to get clean looks from behind the 3-point line against a pressing Arizona defense, and they only had little success penetrating the defense to get buckets around the rim for 20 points in the paint.
The Utes shot 44% from the field on 25-of-57 shooting, and 36% on 10-of-28 shooting from deep. Utah shot only 40% from the field in the first half and only made two 3-pointers and shot 18% from deep.
Timmy Allen, who returned to his home state of Arizona, returned to his double-figure scoring ways after failing to record a double-figure game Sunday against Colorado — his only game of the season not in double figures. The sophomore forward finished the night with 16 points and three rebounds in the losing effort.
Riley Battin also had 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting, including three of the team’s nine 3-pointers on the night. Freshman guard Rylan Jones added 11 points, including 3-of-8 from deep, five assists and four rebounds.
The Wildcats were without redshirt senior center Chase Jeter, but Arizona had no problem limiting Utah’s ability to get into the post and make easy buckets in his absence.
Utah returns to action Saturday in Tempe against Arizona State. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. MST.