Branden Carlson, Utah race past No. 4 Arizona 81-66

Dec 1, 2022, 5:54 AM | Updated: 9:18 pm
Utah guard Rollie Worster (25) reacts after his team scored against Arizona during the second half ...

Utah guard Rollie Worster (25) reacts after his team scored against Arizona during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

              Arizona guard Kerr Kriisa (25) defends against Utah guard Rollie Worster (25) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
            
              Utah guard Rollie Worster (25) celebrates after scoring against Arizona during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
            
              Arizona players walk on the court during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Utah on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
            
              Utah center Keba Keita (13) defends against Arizona guard Pelle Larsson (3) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
            
              The Utah bench reacts to a score against Arizona during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
            
              Utah guard Rollie Worster (25) reacts after his team scored against Arizona during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah found a way to bottle up Arizona’s powerful offense.

The Utes handed the No. 4 Wildcats their first loss of the season, 81-66, on Thursday night in the Pac-12 opener for both teams.

Utah locked down Arizona on the perimeter – limiting the Wildcats to 4-of-28 shooting from 3-point range. The Utes flustered the Wildcats into rushed shots and early turnovers, setting the tone for what became a comfortable victory.

Coming into Thursday’s game, Arizona had the nation’s top scoring offense after averaging 97.5 points through its first six contests.

“We really guarded well,” Utah coach Craig Smith said. “That’s been our deal this year. Defense travels.”

Branden Carlson scored 22 points to lead the Utes and went 5 of 9 from 3-point range. Rollie Worster had 12 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists for Utah (6-2). Gabe Madsen and Ben Carlson scored 11 points apiece.

Oumar Ballo led Arizona (6-1) with 22 points and seven rebounds. Azuolas Tubelis added 20 points for the Wildcats, who trailed wire to wire.

“When you have Arizona on your chest, you expect the other team’s best shot and obviously their shot was lot better than ours tonight,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said. “We didn’t match it, especially early in the game.”

Arizona struggled to generate a consistent offensive rhythm before halftime against Utah’s stifling defense. The Utes forced 11 turnovers in the first half that they converted into 15 points. When Arizona got looks at the basket, the Wildcats couldn’t knock down shots — making only 27% of their field goal attempts before halftime.

Ben Carlson and Worster each made back-to-back baskets to punctuate a 17-4 run that put the Utes ahead 39-20 late in the first half.

Arizona cut Utah’s lead to 52-46 in the second half on a 3-point play from Ballo. Madsen and Branden Carlson each scored a pair of baskets to help the Utes counter with an 18-4 run that pushed their lead back to 70-50.

The Wildcats didn’t seriously threaten Utah again and the Utes walked away with their first win over a top-10 opponent since beating then No. 6 Kentucky 69-66 on December 18th, 2019, in Las Vegas.

“It’s a huge win for our program,” Smith said. “I think it’s a huge win for our fanbase.”

CLOSING STRONG

After dropping several close games against Pac-12 opponents a year ago, a dominating victory over Arizona offers evidence that the Utes have evolved into a team who can finish games this season.

Utah won just four games in league play during Smith’s first season and seven of their losses came by six points or fewer.

“It’s just effort and attitude and just a mindset that this game is not over, we got more in us,” Carlson said.

BIG PICTURE

Arizona: Especially in the first half, the Wildcats didn’t resemble the high-flying team that won the Maui Invitational.

Utah: The Utes were impressive against the defending Pac-12 champions and showed they will be a factor in the league this season.

UP NEXT

Arizona hosts California on Sunday.

Utah visits Washington State on Sunday.

___

AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

In this undated photo provided by Kappa U.S. ski racer Travis Ganong wears the new race suit to be ...
Associated Press

US skiers to don climate change-themed race suits at worlds

Looking cool is just the tip of the iceberg for Mikaela Shiffrin, Travis Ganong and the rest of the U.S. ski team when they debut new race suits at the world championships. Even more, they want everyone thinking about climate change. The team’s predominantly blue-and-white suits depict an image of ice chunks floating in the […]
2 days ago
Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero looks on during the first half of an NBA basketball game again...
Associated Press

Banchero, Magic win as Hornets struggle from foul line

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Paolo Banchero had 22 points and 10 rebounds, Wendell Carter Jr. added 20 points and 12 rebounds and the Orlando Magic took advantage of Charlotte’s poor foul shooting to beat the Hornets 119-113 Sunday. The Hornets made just one of nine free throws in the fourth quarter while Orlando was going […]
2 days ago
Aaron Rodgers follows his shot onto the 16th green of the Pebble Beach Golf Links during the third ...
Associated Press

Rodgers takes pro-am at Pebble as Rose grabs 54-hole lead

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers finally gets his name on the Wall of Champions behind the first tee at Pebble Beach, joining a long list that includes Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. Justin Rose would love nothing better than to be on an adjacent plaque for winning […]
2 days ago
FILE -  Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving reacts during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game...
Associated Press

AP source: Kyrie Irving going to the Dallas Mavericks

Kyrie Irving is getting his wish. He’s getting traded. And Luka Doncic is getting another All-Star to help him in Dallas. The Mavericks and Brooklyn Nets agreed Sunday on a blockbuster trade: Irving — the super-talented and often-enigmatic eight-time All-Star point guard — heads to Dallas in exchange for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith and a […]
2 days ago
UConn's Aaliyah Edwards knocks the ball from South Carolina's Aliyah Boston, left, in the first hal...
Associated Press

No. 1 South Carolina tops fifth-ranked UConn 81-77

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — In a rematch of last season’s national championship game, South Carolina came out on top again over UConn thanks to a strong fourth quarter by Aliyah Boston. Boston scored 23 of her 26 points in the second half, including 14 in the final period, to help the No. 1 Gamecocks beat […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

Former NFL player faces DUI charge in Florida after crash

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) — A former NFL player was arrested on a misdemeanor driving under the influence charge after troopers say his vehicle rear-ended a pick-up truck that was on the side of a South Florida highway because of a flat tire, injuring the truck’s driver who had been standing outside. Vontae Davis, 34, smelled […]
2 days ago
Branden Carlson, Utah race past No. 4 Arizona 81-66