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'Lucky' No. 3 Arizona survives another close call

The SportsXchange

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Arizona has been good -- and lucky.

The third-ranked Wildcats pulled out a down-to-the-wire game for the fourth time since Dec. 15, holding off Utah 60-57 on Saturday when Jarred DuBois missed a game-tying 3-pointer in the final seconds.

Arizona, coming off a 92-83 overtime victory over Colorado in which it survived a controversial replay review of a 3-point shot at the end of regulation, improved to 14-0 overall and 2-0 in the Pac-12.

"We pulled out another lucky one," said UA senior guard Kevin Parrom. "We've been lucky for a couple of weeks now. The luck is going to run out soon. We have to play better.

"We have a bull's-eye on our back. We have to understand that. We're No. 3 in the nation, undefeated, and we have to play harder. Nobody is giving us anything easy."

Arizona point guard Mark Lyons made two free throws with 7.2 seconds left for the final points. After Arizona's sixth foul of the half, Utah ended up with an inbounds play from halfcourt with 4.9 seconds left. DuBois caught the pass and pulled up over Nick Johnson for a 3-point shot that hit the rim, bounced high off the backboard and hit the rim again before falling away as time expired.

It was the second consecutive heartbreaker for the Utes, who lost at Arizona State in overtime on Wednesday.

"It's extremely frustrating because we came so close the past two games," said senior center Jason Washburn. "When our team plays well enough to win the game on the road against the No. 3 team in the country, and it's taken away from you, I have no words for that."

Solomon Hill scored 19 points, making 6 of 7 shots from the field, including all three of his attempts from behind the arc, to lead Arizona.

The Wildcats never trailed but also never led by more than 10 points, the last time at 41-31 with 14:29 left.

The Utes (8-6, 0-2) -- expected to be one of the weakest teams in the Pac-12 -- were intent on slowing down the game and using much of the shot clock, taking Arizona out of its open-court game. Neither team had a fast-break point.

With its mix of man-to-man and zone defenses frustrating Arizona, Utah twice whittled the second-half lead to one point, including 58-57 with 1:06 left on Washburn's 3-pointer. Utah missed a chance to take the lead when DuBois missed a 3-pointer with about 10 seconds left, with Lyons grabbing the rebound and getting fouled.

"I am convinced we are going to catch some breaks," said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. "We just have to continue to bring it and some of those shots are going to go in for us."

Washburn and forward Jordan Loveridge each scored 17 points to lead the Utes.

Arizona, which also won late-game thrillers over Florida, San Diego State and Colorado, started fast. Freshman power forward Brandon Ashley scored UA's first seven points, including his second 3-pointer of the season and a layup on an alley-oop pass from Lyons.

Utah got within 17-16 with 11:11 to play in the half when DuBois made three free throws, but the Utes scored only seven points the rest of the half. Arizona, whose biggest first-half lead was at 30-20, failed to pull away as it was cold from the field, too, making only 34.4 percent (11 of 32) in the first half.

The Wildcats went scoreless in the final 4:52 of the half.

Arizona will play its next three games on the road, starting Thursday at Oregon.

"We are not playing well," UA coach Sean Miller said. "We are nowhere near where we need to be. Sometimes you hit a peak when you're playing so well and think no one in the country can beat you. Once in a while, you don't play well and are reminded of how difficult it is to win every game."

NOTES: Arizona's 14-0 start is the program's best since the 1931-32 team began with 16 consecutive victories. ... Utah hasn't won a conference game away from home since Feb. 11, 2011, when it won at New Mexico as a member of the Mountain West. ... Arizona has out-rebounded 10 of its 14 opponents by a double-digit margin. The Wildcats had a 38-27 edge vs. Utah. ... Washburn had 17 points and 11 rebounds for his second double-double in a row. ... Arizona drew a crowd of 14,545 at McKale Center for its third sellout of the season.
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