TUCSON, Ariz. — Since joining the Pac-12 in 2011-12, Utah has not won at Arizona. The losses included a 60-57 decision in 2014 and a 74-73 outcome just last season.
Add the latest setback, an 84-81 overtime loss on Saturday, to the list of near misses that has the Utes 0-7 at Tucson in that time.
“Our guys battled,” Krystkowiak said. “It was a heck of a college basketball game, and I thought there were some ebbs and flows.”
Such was the case on potential game-winning shot by Parker Van Dyke in the closing seconds. Utah trailed 82-81 at the time, and Van Dyke’s attempt from 3-point distance appeared to be right on line.
“In a way, it feels like I made it because it felt so good,” Van Dyke said. “Right when it left my hands, I thought it was in. It’s disappointing when it doesn’t go down.”
Brandon Randolph rebounded the ball for Arizona and hit two free throws with 1.6 seconds remaining to cap all scoring in a wild contest that featured 15 ties and 12 lead changes.
“It was just punch, counter-punch all day long,” Krystkowiak said. “At some point we’ll get one, but back in the saddle … that’s all you can do.”
Sedrick Barefield led all scorers with 26 points. However, he fouled out with 1:44 left in regulation and Utah clinging to a 70-69 lead. Brandon Williams hit two free throws for the Wildcats, but the Utes still had a chance to win just before time expired with the score tied 72-72. A pass to Timmy Allen, though, was mishandled under the basket — allowing Arizona time for a long shot that missed the mark as the buzzer sounded.
In overtime, Utah trailed by four at one point before pulling in front on a three-point play by Donnie Tillman with 1:12 to go. The Utes never scored again. Randolph wound up making the game-winning basket after Tillman’s scores.
Starting center Jayce Johnson fouled out with 2:45 remaining, leaving the Utes even more shorthanded for the pivotal finale.
“I know how Utah feels probably as if they had a lost opportunity. One of the keys to us winning was Sedrick Barefield fouling out. I thought we did kind of a good job attacking him when he had three and four fouls,” said Arizona coach Sean Miller. “It’s one thing to try to do it. It’s another thing to accomplish it, but fouling him out really changed the game down the stretch, and in overtime playing without him was a different task versus playing with him.”
Krystkowiak agreed it that altered the way things were going.
“I think it goes without saying. Sedrick had a heck of a game, and without him for the last seven minutes of the game or so, we had to get a little bit creative,” Krystkowiak said. “But our guys did a nice job of battling back without him.”
In the end, though, Utah fell to 7-7 overall and 1-1 in Pac-12 play. Arizona improved to 11-4 and 2-0.
The score was knotted at 36-36 after one half of play. Both teams shot the ball well over the first 20 minutes. Utah connected on 14 of 23 attempts (60.9 percent), while Arizona made 15 of 27 (55.6 percent).
Barefield, in particular, had the hot hand. The senior guard had 19 points at the break, making 7 of 9 shots from the field (including 4 of 5 from 3-point range). He scored five of his point during a 10-0 run that gave the Utes a 20-10 advantage less than seven minutes into the game.10 comments on this story
Arizona responded with nine straight points of its own to get back into contention. Utah, though, remained in front until Dylan Smith hit a 3-pointer to tie it up at 26-26 with 5:23 left in the half. The Utes regained the lead three more times — the last on a 3-pointer by Barefield that made it 33-30 with under three minutes remaining in the half. The Wildcats answered with a 6-0 burst before Barefield ended the flurry with another 3-pointer.
“I was taking the shots they were giving me and the shots I was comfortable taking,” Barefield said. “Obviously, you know, it wasn’t the outcome we wanted. But it was definitely a learning experience.”
Utah’s next three games are in the Huntsman Center. The home stand begins with Washington on Thursday and Washington State on Saturday. The Utes host Colorado on Jan. 20.