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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Utah Utes forward David Collette (13) is heavily defended by Arizona Wildcats forward Deandre Ayton (13) and Arizona Wildcats guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright (0) in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. No foul was called. Arizona won 94-82.
SALT LAKE CITY — A moral victory? Not in Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak’s opinion. He wasn’t buying it after the Utes dropped a 94-82 decision to 14th-ranked Arizona in the Huntsman Center. Thursday’s setback featured a comeback from 17 points down, three late ties and a loud crowd of 13,543.
“I’m not into moral victories, but two things could have happened in that second half,” Krystkowiak said. “We did take the right route and fought and scratched and managed to shoot, make some shots.”
Sedrick Barefield had the hot hand for Utah during the rally. He finished with a team-high 23 points, all but three coming in the second half.
“My teammates just did a good job finding me and I’ve been in the gym a little extra this week,” Barefield said. “So it kind of paid off down that stretch. I wish we would have hit some of the shots later in the game.”
Krystkowiak noted that after the final media timeout with four minutes to go, there were costly turnovers and missed block outs. The latter led to Arizona finishing with a 46-23 rebounding advantage. Freshman Deandre Ayton paced the Wildcats (12-3, 2-0) with a game-high 24 points and 14 rebounds.
“We knew we are going to be challenged rebounding,” Krystkowiak said. “But they doubled us on the glass.”
Arizona cashed in with 23 points on second shots. Even so, Krystkowiak noted that the Utes made stops and got the ball to get back into the game. Then came some missed open looks and miscues.
“I’ll give our guys a lot of credit for battling back,” Krystkowiak said. “It’s not like we’re in here trying to figure out why we lost. If it was confusing, and I felt like we were outmanned, then I’d be making up a bunch of stuff. But it’s pretty much right there in front of us.”