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February 20, 2014

No. 4 Arizona escapes Utah with OT win



Not even a lineup change could help fourth-ranked Arizona avoid its second overtime contest in as many games. Ironically enough, the two players affected by the switch had the biggest hand in the outcome Wednesday night.

Gabe York provided a spark with 15 points, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored the first six points of overtime and the Wildcats held off Utah, 67-63, at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City.

It was just last Friday at Arizona State where York couldn't make a basket. Five days and an unexpected starting nod later, he couldn't miss early.

York, who missed all six of his field goal attempts - including four 3-pointers - in last week's double-overtime loss to the Sun Devils, started in place of a hobbled Hollis-Jefferson and took advantage. The sophomore guard made his first five field goals and finished 6 of 10 from the field - including 3 of 6 from the 3-point line.

Hollis-Jefferson, who missed a practice earlier in the week with an ankle injury, added six of his 13 in the extra session for the Wildcats (24-2, 11-2 Pac-12 Conference), who shot 42.9 percent from the field and converted 14 of 19 free throws.

The Utes missed an opportunity trailing 60-58 with 2:06 left. Despite being fouled on a 3-point attempt, Brandon Taylor missed all three free throws and Hollis-Jefferson answered immediately with his final bucket.

With 33.9 seconds left and still within 62-60, Delon Wright overthrew Dallin Bachynski on an entry pass that sailed out of bounds. Nick Johnson then connected on four of UA's five free throws over the final 21.4 seconds to hold on.

Johnson tied York for game-high honors with 15 points.

Taylor finished with 13 while Wright and Bachynski added 12 apiece for Utah (17-9, 6-8 Pac-12), which dropped to 16-2 at home.

Trailing 46-34 in regulation, Utah reeled off eight consecutive points to pull within four with 10:08 to play. The Utes then picked up Aaron Gordon's fifth foul - and third offensive - to disqualify him with 8:41 to play.

Still down 52-48, Utah then cut the deficit to a point on Taylor's 3-pointer at the 4:35 mark. Jordan Loveridge was then fouled on a 3-point attempt and hit all three free throws to give the Utes their first lead since the 9:34 mark of the opening half.

Arizona, mired in a 2 of 11 slump in that stretch, went to Johnson for back-to-back jump shots as the Wildcats pulled back in front, 56-55, with 2:21 remaining. In the final minute, Loveridge was fouled on a drive to the basket but could only split a pair of free throws to tie the game.

With 3.4 seconds to play, T.J. McConnell missed a runner while drifting to his left just outside of the key to send the game to overtime.

After losing the rebounding margin by 11 - and surrendering 20 offensive rebounds - in the first meeting this season, Utah owned a 37-31 advantage on the boards. The Utes shot 43.3 percent and connected on just 13 of 22 free throws.

The game got off to a quick start as Arizona made its first four shots and the teams combined to make 11 of the first 18.

UA created separation with 14 consecutive points - including seven in a row from York - to go up 25-16. York, who made all four of his shot attempts in the half, then added a 3-pointer to extend the advantage to 30-20 with 3:35 remaining.

The sophomore led the way with 10 first-half points to go with two assists, and UA's three-guard lineup combined to make 9 of 13 shots en route to a 35-26 advantage at the break.

Tracy McDannaldTracy McDannald
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor

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