Utah basketball: Runnin' Utes advance to meet top seed Arizona
Julie Jacobson, AP
LAS VEGAS — Now comes another shot at Arizona.
After knocking off Washington (67-61) in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament, the Utah Utes get a shot at the top-seeded Wildcats in the quarterfinals. They’ll square off Thursday (1:06 p.m., Pac-12 Network) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“We’ve got a tough game (Thursday). It’ll be tough,” said Utah forward Jordan Loveridge. “But I feel like if we have enough confidence and we believe in each other than we should be able to get it done.”
Arizona is the only Pac-12 team that Utah has yet to beat since joining the conference in 2011-12. The Utes have come close, however. Both of this season’s meetings were competitive, with Arizona prevailing 65-56 in Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 26 and 67-63 in overtime in Salt Lake City on Feb. 19.
“We fought them both times at their house and our house,” said Utah guard Brandon Taylor. “It’s only right for us to get them again. It’s going to be a hard, hard-fought battle tomorrow. I can tell you that.”
DEFENSE AND REBOUNDING: The Utes kept Washington senior C.J. Wilcox in check Wednesday. The guard, who was averaging 18.5 points per game, was held to 14 points on 4-of-15 shooting. The former Pleasant Grove High School star was 2 of 8 from 3-point range. The Huskies, as a team, were held to 37 percent shooting from the field and managed just five assists as a team.
Utah also benefitted from a 39-28 rebounding advantage.
“Our kids played just about as well as they could defensively, including the rebounding, from start to finish,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak.
JUST ONE: If Utah ends up playing in the NIT, the Utes won’t play more than once in the Huntsman Center. Steve Pyne, Utah’s director of event and facility management, confirmed that the school submitted a bid to host a first-round game only because of scheduled renovations to the arena. Removal of the scoreboard and demolition of the basketball floor is scheduled to begin March 20. Pyne said the construction schedule is tight with a completion date for the remodeling project set for Oct. 15.
HALL OF FAME: Former Utah great Billy “The Hill” McGill will be inducted into the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Hall of Fame in a ceremony prior to Friday’s semifinal games. McGill will join one representative from the 11 programs in the conference — Luke Walton (Arizona), Verl Heap (Arizona State), David Butler (California), Ken Charlton (Colorado), Frederick Jones (Oregon), Lee Harman (Oregon State), Mark Madsen (Stanford), Tyus Edney (UCLA), Wayne Carlander (USC), Brandon Roy (Washington) and Ed Gayda (Washington State).
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