SALT LAKE CITY — Calling Wednesday night’s game against No. 4 Arizona a big game would be a massive understatement. Some believe the Pac-12 to be a six-bid league, and a win over the U. of A. would go a long way for a Utah team that last beat the Wildcats in 1998.
All-time great Billy “the Hill” McGill was honored during halftime of the game. It seems be may have brought a little of the magic that helped him score 1,006 points in just 26 games in the 1960s.
The Utes went into the half down nine points, and with 12 minutes to play the Utes found themselves in a 12-point hole. A furious comeback, however, led to overtime. With 44.4 seconds left, junior Delon Wright threw a pass well over the head of Dallin Bachynski that led, in part, to yet another close loss in conference play.
Here are the grades for Utah’s guards, big men and fans:
Anytime a team takes a top-5 program to overtime it must be doing something right. Wednesday, that something was the guard play for the Utes.
Brandon Taylor, Wright and Princeton Onwas received the majority of the minutes on the guard line.
Taylor was a spark in the first half and finished the game with 13 points, but he struggled to slow down Arizona’s Gabe York, who finished with a game-high 15 points in his first start of the season.
Onwas had two highlight dunks that got the fans at the Huntsman Center on their feet and also came up with some big defensive plays down the stretch in regulation.
Wright had a respectable 12 points, but finished with six turnovers, including the big one late in overtime.
Freshman Ahmad Fields was a bright spot for the Utes. He went 2 of 3 from the field and pulled down three boards.
Bachynski had a big game off the bench in relief of Jeremy Olsen and barely missed a double-double (12 points, nine rebounds). His rebounding helped to keep the Utes within striking distance. Utah beat Arizona on the boards, 37-31, but were ahead by double-digits in that category for much of the night.
Jordan Loveridge, on the other hand, had a night he probably wishes he could forget. The sophomore forward went 1 of 12 for a mere seven points and five rebounds. His lack of production was the difference in the game.
The MUSS and the rest of the Utah fans showed up late but made noise for their team when it counted. The Utes fed off the noise and tied the game with under a minute to go. Most fans stayed until the bitter end.