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James Akinjo scores 18 points as Arizona Wildcats beat Montana 70-64

Arizona Wildcats guard James Akinjo (13) talks with Arizona Wildcats head coach Sean Miller during a college basketball game between the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks and the Arizona Wildcats on December 07, 2020, at McKale Center in Tucson, AZ. (Getty Images)

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — James Akinjo scored 18 points, Jordan Brown added 15 points, and the Arizona Wildcats beat Montana 70-64 on Tuesday night.

The Wildcats (6-1) picked up their third win against the Big Sky Conference, but for the second time, they trailed at halftime before pulling it out down the stretch.

Montana led 36-29 at the half, shooting 52%, making 3 of 6 from 3-point range and all nine of its free throws. The Grizzlies were also even on the boards with Arizona, which was 1 of 8 from 3-point range, shot 33% from the field and was just 8 of 16 from the foul line.

Despite Montana (3-5) cooling off in the second half, getting into foul trouble and committing 11 of their 19 turnovers, Arizona didn’t take the lead for good until Bennedict Mathurin made back-to-back buckets; his dunk at 8:29 making it 53-49.

Montana got a basket from Robby Beasley about a half-minute later but then went almost 7 1/2 minutes with a field goal, missing six times with two turnovers.

Arizona, which went 3 of 14 from 3-point range, got a pair of big baskets inside the final five minutes, Akinjo making it a five-point game and Azuolas Tubelis making it 64-56 with 2:44 to go.

Montana was 20 of 22 from the foul line, Arizona 19 of 34.

Arizona (6-1) beat Northern Arizona 96-53, but only edged Eastern Washington 70-67 after trailing 43-38 at halftime before pulling out a 70-67 win.

Beasley, a freshman who missed the first six games with a leg injury, scored 17 points off the bench for the Grizzlies. Kyle Owens added 13 points.

Arizona, now 113-12 at McKale Center, was 36 of 73 (49%) behind the arc in its previous four games.