TJ McConnell was masterful in the first half, putting the team on his back in a 69-51 whooping of #8 ranked Utah.
In a heavyweight battle, Utah came out swinging and put Arizona on their heels with an early 10-2 lead. But despite the slow start, Arizona slowly but surely took the momentum and the lead by halftime.
They wouldn’t have been able to do so without McConnell, the senior point guard who stepped up offensively and carried the Wildcats for the first 20 minutes. McConnell hit 8 of 10 shots for 16 points, 6 assists, and three rebounds.
More than anything, it was McConnell’s toughness that led Arizona in the right direction and inspired his teammates to rise to the occasion.
Freshman Stanley Johnson, who had zero points and zero rebounds in the first half, took the torch from McConnell and gave Arizona the spark to crush a Utah team deserving of their top 10 ranking. The physically gifted forward exploded for 18 points and 9 rebounds, all in the second half.
The entire Wildcat team thrashed the Utes on the boards, posting an unheard of 40 to 19 rebounding margin, underscoring their dominance of the conference.
As a team, Arizona shot 49% from the field while holding Utah to 39%. Defensively, Arizona stepped up in a big way against a top notch opponent.
Perhaps the best player in the conference, Utah’s Delon Wright, came out keyed in and had 7 points in the first few minutes of the game. But after that he was silenced, scoring just 3 more points the rest of the way.
Arizona notched another big win that will not only boost their national standing, but puts them a step closer to a 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, while establishing conference supremacy over a very talented Utah team.