Sophomore Azuolas Tubelis scored a career-high 32 points to help No. 6 Arizona overcome a poor shooting night from distance and the absence of starting point guard Kerr Kriisa in an 82-64 victory over Utah on Saturday night in Tucson, Ariz.
Tubelis made 14 of 24 shots as the Wildcats (14-1, 4-0 Pac-12) ultimately asserted their size advantage, especially during a game-defining 21-0 run in the second half.
The Utes (8-9, 1-6) led for more than 15 minutes in the first half and often successfully slowed the pace of the game, but they dropped their fifth consecutive game, all in conference play. Both Gach scored 12 points to lead Utah. Dusan Mahorcic and Lahat Thioune each scored 10.
It took a while for Arizona to adapt without Kriisa, who was not available because of non-COVID precautionary reasons, the school announced.
It didn't help that the Wildcats shot 3 of 18 from behind the arc, but the starting frontcourt of Tubelis and Christian Koloko were dominant. Koloko scored 16 points on 7-of-7 shooting, also blocking four shots. Tubelis grabbed eight rebounds and added five assists.
Arizona led 44-35 with 14:33 to go, seemingly threatening to take control after consecutive dunks, but Gach connected on 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions and the Utes climbed within 46-45 with 12:24 left after another Gach jumper.
The Wildcats controlled the rest of the game.
Dalen Terry's layup kicked off the 21-0 run that included a combined 14 points from Tubelis, Koloko and backup big man Oumar Ballo. Utah, playing without leading scorer Branden Carlson (recovering from appendectomy), went 7:27 without scoring.
Utah made six of its first eight shots to grab an early 15-9 lead. Arizona committed seven turnovers in the first 10 minutes and had missed nine consecutive shots before a Koloko dunk cut the Wildcats' deficit to 19-16 with 7:37 to go in the half.
Arizona surged in the final 4:29. The Wildcats went on a 16-7 run to finish the half with a 34-31 lead. Tubelis had 16 points in the first half on 7-of-11 shooting; his teammates were a combined 7 of 22.
--Field Level Media