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Utah Men’s Basketball Falls at Home to Arizona in Triple-Overtime Thriller

Branden Carlson led Utah in both scoring and rebounding, putting up 27 points and 15 rebounds, but the valiant effort fell just short.
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Xiangyao Tang
Utah guard Deivon Smith (5) versus the Arizona Wildcats at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. (Photo by Xiangyao “Axe” Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

Despite trailing 41-25 at halftime, the Utah men’s basketball team (15-8, 6-6 Pac-12) would claw their way back in the second half against a solid Arizona Wildcats squad to send this game into three overtimes. The Utes fought valiantly, but Arizona was too much to handle, as the Wildcats came away with a narrow victory 105-99. Utah might not have secured the win, but final score aside, the Utes showed no signs of quitting as they went wire-to-wire with one of the best teams in the entire country.

First Half

Utah kept the game close early on, holding a 13-12 lead at the 12:40 mark of the first half, penetrating the Arizona defense and distributing the ball well. Arizona, however, showed their veteran leadership and defensive resilience by ending the half on a 29-12 run to take a commanding 41-25 lead into halftime.

The Arizona defense suffocated Utah throughout the entire first half, leading to eight turnovers, just 32% from the field, and 20% from 3-point range. The Wildcats length and ball pressure were too much to handle as they held the Utes to just 25 first-half points.

Free throw shooting continued to be a problem for Utah, as they went 1-6 from the line in the first half. The Ute offense could not find a rhythm in transition and continued to turn the ball over, giving Arizona easy looks at the rim. Overall, Utah would need to make some considerable adjustments at halftime in order to stay competitive against an Arizona team that has been consistently dominant all year.

Deivon Smith led the first half in scoring for the Utes, putting up six points while adding four rebounds and three assists. Keba Keita added four points of his own, while several Utes were able to score three points each. Utah would need a massive scoring spurt from their key players in order to complete the comeback in the second half.

Second Half

Utah came out hot in the second half, cutting the lead to eight at the 13:51 mark thanks to a 3-pointer from Branden Carlson. Arizona continued to apply the pressure offensively, scoring at will throughout the first 10 minutes.

The Utes would not go away quietly, as they put together a 10-0 run in just two minutes of action to cut the Wildcat lead to one point. The final 10 minutes of regulation saw both teams trading buckets until Arizona knocked down three straight free throws to grab a 76-71 lead with just over one minute left in the game. Utah had some energy left in the tank, as a Keita dunk, an impressive defensive stop and a clutch Gabe Madsen 3-pointer with 0:19 left to go would push this game into overtime.

The first overtime was much the same, as both teams continued to play extremely effective defense. With five seconds left, Arizona guard Caleb Love missed a game-winning layup to send the game into double overtime thanks to a great defensive effort out of the timeout for the Utes.

Utah trailed early in the second overtime period, but two clutch free throws by Keita tied the game up at 91 apiece. Love would yet again miss another game-winning shot at the buzzer that would send this thriller into an astounding third overtime period.

Unfortunately for Utah, they did not have enough gas left in the tank in the third overtime and fell behind 99-93 with just over two minutes remaining. The Wildcats knocked down four free throws down the stretch to avoid the upset and hand Utah its first loss at home this season. Utah fell 105-99 despite the extraordinary comeback effort in the second half.

Utes Stuffing the Stat Sheet

Carlson led Utah in both scoring and rebounding, putting up 27 points and 15 rebounds. Madsen caught fire in the second half, scoring 17 points, 14 of which came after halftime. Keita would round out the majority of the scoring for the Utes with 18 points and grabbing seven hard-fought rebounds. Smith notched his second triple double of the year, scoring 14 points, dishing out 10 assists and grabbing 11 rebounds. This makes him the first Utah men’s basketball player of all time to achieve multiple triple doubles in a single season and the first Pac-12 men’s conference player to do so since the 2003-04 season.

What’s next for the Utes?

The Utes will have one day of rest before they get back into action against Arizona State on Feb. 10. The game will tip off at 6:00 p.m. MST at the Jon M. Huntsman Center. Tune into ESPN2 to catch all the action.

 

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@Kylegarr23

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About the Contributors
Kyle Garrison, Sports Writer
Kyle garrison grew up in Spring Lake, Michigan. He moved to Salt Lake City to pursue a degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism. Kyle plans on pursuing broadcast journalism as a career once graduating from the University of Utah. Kyle started with the Chronicle this fall and has loved every minute of working with the team.
Xiangyao Tang, Photo Director
Axe is a photographer and the photo director of the Daily Utah Chronicle. He is from China and is a senior majoring in computer science and minoring in digital photography. Axe joined the Chronicle in August of 2021. In addition to his position at the Chrony, he is also a photo intern for University of Utah Athletics. When he's not writing code, you will find him rock climbing, camping, skiing or hiking with his camera.

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