TUCSON, Ariz. (ABC4 Sports) – The young Utah basketball team has hit hard times early in the Pac-12 season.
Four days after losing by 39 points to Colorado, the Utes fell behind by as many as 27 points in a 93-77 loss to Arizona.
Max Hazzard had 24 points and made six 3-pointers, Zeke Nnaji added 24 points for the Wildcats.
“I’m convinced as my physician told me with all my knee injuries that if experiences don’t kill you it’s going to make you stronger,” said Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak. “And, I trust that we got a sense of what a big boy basketball is like and what we need to do and what we need to clean up. It felt better I thought; we competed better, we did not quit in this game.”
Arizona had eight 3-pointers to lead by 24 at halftime and went 15 for 29 from the arc overall to bounce back from being swept by the Pac-12 Oregon schools last week.
Nnaji also had eight rebounds and Hazzard went 6 for 10 from 3-point range off the bench.
The Utes never stood much of a chance after digging a big early hole in one of college basketball’s toughest road venues.
Timmy Allen and Riley Battin had 16 points each to lead the Utes, who have lost four of five.
Coming off a 17-point loss at Oregon State, Arizona hit the Utes with a barrage of 3-pointers early. The Wildcats made five of their first eight from the arc and used an 8-0 run to build a 12-point lead midway through the first half.
Arizona finished the half 8 for 14 from 3 and stretched the lead to 52-28 behind Hazzard, who had 11 points and was 4 of 5 from the arc.
Utah labored against Arizona’s aggressive man defense, forcing up contested shots late in the shot clock throughout the first half. The Utes didn’t make many, at least from the perimeter, going 2 for 11 on 3-pointers in the half.
The Utes played better to start the second half, hitting a few more shots while creating some problems for Arizona defensively.
Even then, Utah only managed to get the lead down to 17.
Utah next plays at Arizona State Saturday.