SALT LAKE CITY — Utah took care of a lot of business Thursday night in the Huntsman Center. An 83-76 win over Arizona gave the Utes their third consecutive victory and put an end to a four-game losing streak against the Wildcats and a two-game skid at home.
It all broke open with an 18-2 run in the second half. The outburst gave the Utes a 66-51 lead and served as the knockout punch in a game featuring 11 lead changes and 11 ties.
“The guys were really making some plays defensively and then we ran,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “I thought maybe the elevation could have kicked into gear. We talked about it being kind of a heavyweight fight.”
Senior guard Parker Van Dyke picked up where he left off after hitting a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in last Saturday’s 93-92 win at UCLA. He hit seven shots from beyond the arc, including his first five attempts, en route to finishing with a game-high 23 points.
“He’s obviously in a nice place right now,” Krystkowiak said. “I thought our guys did a nice job of finding him.”
Utah wound up with 16 assists and just 10 turnovers, numbers the Utes shoot for.
Jayce Johnson also had a big outing, scoring all of his career-high 17 points in the second half. The junior center also grabbed 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season.
Krystkowiak noted that Johnson has been playing really well.
“Confidence is a big thing,” Krystkowiak said. “Whether it’s Parker or Jayce, when guys start feeling good, that’s a big part of the game of basketball.”
Utah had other major contributions in its first win over Arizona since February 2016. Sedrick Barefield finished with 15 points and six assists, while Timmy Allen added 14 points and six rebounds. Donnie Tillman pulled down six boards and blocked three shots.
“A really fun game, great just to get a win against Arizona. That was my first one here as a Ute,” Van Dyke said. “So just a great team win.”
The Utes trailed 32-31 at halftime and were outrebounded 21-16. However, the tide eventually turned with the pivotal stretch in the second half.
“We were overwhelmed by Utah’s execution, shooting and physicality,” said Arizona coach Sean Miller.
The Wildcats (14-11, 5-7) have lost six straight games, their longest slide since 1983-84.
The Utes, meanwhile, improved to 14-10 overall and 8-4 in Pac-12 play. They’re in sole possession of second place entering Saturday’s home game against Arizona State (8 p.m., FS1). The Sun Devils (16-8, 7-5) dropped a 77-73 decision at Colorado on Wednesday.
“It’s not going to be easy,” predicted Van Dyke, who noted that ASU built a big lead before Utah rallied for a 96-86 win last month in Tempe.”I think we’ve got to be even better than tonight to get the sweep.”
Utah had lost two straight games at home prior to the win, having lost to Oregon and Oregon State before going on the road and getting victories over USC and UCLA.
The Utes are now 5-1 in Pac-12 games on the road and 3-3 at home.40 comments on this story
“What we talked about is there’s nothing magical when you come home,” Krystkowiak said. “You can see in our league right now there’s a lot of road teams that are winning and if you think that there’s going to be some kind of magic in the air from the crowd and sleeping in your own bed, it doesn’t happen that way.”
Krystkowiak added that the Utes didn’t make too much of it, just noting the importance of being ready to go at home and give the crowd something to cheer about.
“You’ve got to take care of your homecourt,” Krystkowiak said. “You’ve got to go get your fair share of wins on the road and then after 18 games let’s add them up and we’re shooting for one of those (four) byes (in the Pac-12 Tournament).”