ARIZONA BASKETBALL

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

Dec 22, 2020, 7:47 PM
Arizona Wildcats guard James Akinjo (13) talks with Arizona Wildcats head coach Sean Miller during ...
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)
(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.

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