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He’ll take it: Big shot by Arizona’s Ristic part of Player of the Week win

Arizona and Utah went back-and-forth down the stretch on Saturday.

The Wildcats only went back to one man: Center Dusan Ristic.

The senior scored Arizona’s final seven points in a 74-73 win over the Utes, moving the No. 9 Wildcats to 18-4 on the year and 8-1 in Pac-12 play. For Ristic, it capped a sweep of Utah and Colorado that earned him the Pac-12 Player of the Week honors.

Ristic’s biggest shot, well, wasn’t exactly by design.

With 1:41 to play Wednesday, Ristic launched a three-pointer atop the arc on what was a high-low play where his teammates admit he missed finding teammate Deandre Ayton for a bucket. Cameras caught head coach Sean Miller reacting, well, interestingly to the made bucket at a key moment.

“I’m happy it went it for his being, his safety,” said teammate Allonzo Trier during Monday’s press conference. “If it didn’t, boy, it would’ve been a long day. It wouldn’t have been good.

“It was ugly, (coach Sean Miller) wasn’t feeling it at all.”

Ristic averaged 19.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game in the two home games. His best performance came against Utah, when he scored 23 points to go with seven rebounds, two blocks with three made threes in three attempts.

He’d only taken five other threes this season, missing them all.

During his press conference on Monday, Miller wasn’t showing displeasure about his center’s shot selection.

“I’m thrilled about Dusan’s confidence. It’s something that players have to gain within themselves,” the coach said. “Hard work over a long period of time, success in games — consistent success — you know, that allows young kids to feel good about the next game, who they are. That it makes them feel really good about all they’ve sacrificed, that it’s worth it because they’ve seen the benefits of the game.”

Ristic became the 52nd player in Arizona history to eclipse the 1,000 point mark during his team’s win over Utah. He is the 28th player to score more than 1,000 and grab over 500 career rebounds as a Wildcat.

He joins Ayton and Trier as Wildcats who have won the weekly Pac-12 award this season.

“I think this was my best game at Arizona,” Ristic said Saturday.

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