Arizona will look to keep its momentum going following the miracle at McKale. Utah steps into the Wildcat den next for a Saturday afternoon match-up. The Utes are coming off a heart breaking one point loss to the Sun Devils in overtime. The game was close throughout, and Utah missed a wide open put back at the buzzer on the final play.
This year’s Utah squad is much improved from the previous one that managed just three conference victories. The Utes have an impressive win over Boise State and played BYU down to the wire on the road. Tempo will be key, as Utah will try to slow the pace to a crawl. They did this successfully against Arizona State, holding the Sun Devils to just 49 points in regulation.
Jared DuBois leads Utah with 13.3 points and nearly four assists per game. Jordan Loveridge is tops in rebounding with nearly eight and second in scoring at 12.7 points. However, it was Jason Washburn who put up a herculean effort during Utah’s last outing. The 6’10” senior dominated the paint for 19 points and 18 rebounds. Nickname:
The typical “Cardiac Cats” label fits this year’s team after a third nail-biting victory; however, “Cat Burglars” might be the more apt title, though far less catchy. The Wildcats not only won three close games, but they stole victory from the cusp of defeat each time.
Against Florida, Arizona trailed by six points with 50 seconds left and didn’t even have possession of the ball; still, the Wildcats played shutdown defense to win by one in a game they led for less than a minute.
The San Diego State battle was back-and-forth, with neither team leading by more than two for the final 10 minutes. However, the Aztecs had a wide open layup to win it at the buzzer until Nick Johnson used his powers of teleportation to appear for the block.
Colorado may have been Arizona’s least likely comeback victim of all. The Wildcats looked out of sorts the entire night, save for the last few minutes of both halves and overtime. They trailed by 17 in the first half and 16 in the second half. Arizona didn’t lead at all in regulation after the first three minutes of the game. The Wildcats even needed the referees to overturn a would-be game winning shot from Colorado; the officials ruled that a piece of lint extending from the hangnail on Sabatino Chen’s shooting hand made contact with the ball as time expired (not really, but come on, that was close). The collective sigh from the McKale Center crowd was audible in Casa Grande. Outlook:
After playing defense as if they were in a coma for much of the Colorado game, the Wildcats should be wide awake for this one. Arizona can’t afford to overlook teams, so hopefully the Colorado game will serve as the perfect wake-up call. The Utes aren’t as good as the Buffaloes, so the Wildcats should win this one without any last second (or tenth of a second) drama.