ARIZONA BASKETBALL

Arizona Wildcats win triple-overtime thriller against Utah

Feb 8, 2024, 9:20 PM | Updated: Feb 9, 2024, 8:59 am

Pelle Larssson hugs Keshad Johnson...

Arizona's Pelle Larsson, right, hugs Keshad Johnson (16) after the team's win over Utah in three overtimes in an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Pelle Larsson had 27 points and eight assists to lead No. 8 Arizona to a 105-99 victory over Utah in triple overtime Thursday night.

Caleb Love added 19 points and 10 rebounds to help the Wildcats (18-5, 9-3 Pac-12) earn their third road win in conference play. Keshad Johnson had 17 points and Kylan Boswell scored 16. Oumar Ballo grabbed 16 rebounds to go with 10 points.

Arizona never trailed through the final two overtime periods but did not pull away for good until Ballo threw down a dunk to ignite a 9-0 run that put the Wildcats up 102-93 with 40 seconds left.

“We’ve got a lot of veteran guys who know how to keep a lead,” Johnson said.

Utah went 3 1/2 minutes without a basket in the third overtime, opening the door for Arizona to take control.

“We made one or two small adjustments in that third overtime,” Wildcats coach Tommy Lloyd said.

Branden Carlson led the Utes with 27 points and 15 rebounds. Keba Keita had 18 points and Gabe Madsen added 17. Deivon Smith finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

After rallying from a 16-point halftime deficit, Utah (15-8, 6-6) could not overcome 10-of-21 shooting from the free-throw line and lost at home for the first time this season.

“You’ve got to keep fighting,” Carlson said. “Both teams were definitely fatigued and you’ve just got to be able to fight through it and keep making winning plays.”

Utah came back behind hot shooting from Madsen and Carlson. The duo combined for 15 baskets and 38 points after halftime.

Madsen made a 3-pointer and layup to spark an 11-0 run that helped Utah tie it at 63. The Utes missed four potential go-ahead baskets, but Arizona missed seven straight shots and went six minutes without a bucket. The prolonged drought allowed Utah to finally take a 68-67 lead on Carlson’s jumper.

The Wildcats regained the lead on a layup from Larsson on the ensuing possession and stayed in front until Madsen knocked down a transition 3 with 19.4 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime.

“We’re not always going to make every shot, but I think we took our matchups personal on defense and just flipped the switch in the second half,” Smith said.

After Carlson gave Utah the lead on a layup with 1:18 left in the first overtime, Larsson tied it again on a jumper in the final minute to force another extra session.

Arizona never trailed in the second overtime, but Larsson missed a pair of potential go-ahead free throws with 52 seconds left to open the door for a third OT.

“I could have put the game away but we had to play defense right after, so there’s no time to think about it or no time to dwell,” Larsson said. “I just (focused on the) next play and we kept moving.”

Arizona built a 41-25 halftime lead when Utah made one basket over the final six minutes of the half. The Utes missed nine shots and four free throws during that stretch. The Wildcats closed the half on a 14-4 run, punctuated by Love’s layup.

“That lead in the first half allowed us to absorb how well they played in the second half, and got it into overtime and we were able to find a way,” Lloyd said.

BIG PICTURE

Arizona made Utah work hard for shots in the first half but struggled to keep the Utes from getting the looks they wanted after halftime.

Utah struggled with numerous wasted possessions over the first 20 minutes, rushing shots and committing careless turnovers. Then, the offense roared to life after halftime.

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