Published May 02, 2016
Tucson, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - Arizona's home winning streak remained intact and the Wildcats regained their standing as the Pac-12 front-runners with a convincing victory over another top-10 opponent on Saturday.
T.J. McConnell was nearly perfect from the floor and finished with 16 points and six assists as No. 10 Arizona bested No. 8 Utah 69-51 at McKale Center.
McConnell connected on all but two of his 10 shots and made sure the Wildcats (16-2, 4-1 Pac-12) stayed competitive early.
Arizona's big men, namely Stanley Johnson, took over after the break.
Johnson scored all 18 of his points in the second half and pulled down nine rebounds for a frontcourt that owned a staggering 40-19 edge on the glass and a 34-14 advantage in the paint.
Brandon Ashley chipped in with 14 points and eight rebounds as the Wildcats ran their home winning streak to 32 games.
Brandon Taylor shot 4-of-7 from behind the arc and totaled 12 points for Utah (14-3, 4-1), which won their previous seven games by an average of 23 points.
The Utes jumped out to a 10-2 lead when Delon Wright banked in a 3-pointer and Taylor hit one from roughly 10 feet behind the arc. They were shooting 5-for-7 from the field over the first seven minutes, but went 11-of-34 (32.4 percent) the rest of the way.
Conversely, the Wildcats missed six of their first seven shots before McConnell going them going with back-to-back jumpers.
Ashley's strong post move gave Arizona its first lead with under six minutes left in the first half, and McConnell, usually a pass-first guard, capped his 12-point half with a late jumper that sent the hosts into the locker room with a 31-26 advantage.
A three-point contest turned into a rout thanks to Arizona's 17-3 flurry in the early stages of the second half. Johnson scored the first nine points in a variety of ways -- a 3-pointer, a tip-in of his own miss, a dunk and two free throws -- and two more free throws from Johnson made it a 52-35 game with under 12 minutes to play.
Jordan Loveridge made three 3-pointers over the next five minutes to pull Utah within 57-47, but Arizona answered with the next 11 points to end any chance of a comeback. Six of those points resulted from offensive rebounds, and Ashley highlighted the late surge with a emphatic two-handed dunk.
Arizona had nearly as many offensive boards (17) as Utah did total rebounds ... The Wildcats managed 18 second-chance points to Utah's three ... The last time Utah was involved in a regular season matchup of top-10 teams was on Dec. 31, 1996 against Wake Forest ... These teams meet again in Utah on Feb. 28.