SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Deandre Ayton scored 24 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as No. 14 Arizona never trailed in a 94-82 victory over Utah on Thursday night.
The Wildcats (12-3, 2-0 Pac-12) have won nine straight. They started the season 0-3 at the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament in the Bahamas.
Rawle Atkins finished with 22 points for Arizona and Parker Jackson-Cartwright added 19.
Sedrick Barefield led Utah (10-4, 2-1) with 23 points and David Collette added 19.
Utah rallied from a 17-point deficit to tie the game late, but couldn’t pull off the upset.
The Wildcats took a 14-point lead into halftime behind the outstanding guard play of Jackson-Cartwright and Atkins and held on in the second half as Barefield tried to shoot the Utes back in the game.
Arizona shut down the interior as its length frustrated the Utah big men. It outrebounded the Utes 46-23.
Barefield scored 20 of his 23 points in the second half and rained down jumpers from around the arc as Utah got within one point, but every time the Utes made a second-half run, Ayton answered on the offensive end. He scored 19 in the second half.
Arizona: Reigning Pac-12 player of the week Ayton may be a possible No. 1 overall NBA pick, but the Wildcats showed they’re more than the 7-foot-1 big man. The guard play was strong, and that was with the conference’s second-leading scorer Allonzo Trier having a fairly quiet night.
Utah: The Utes regressed in the first half after sweeping Oregon and Oregon State on the road last week, but played with more fire in the second. They were dominated on the interior and Utah will need Collette to play tougher against opponents with size.
Arizona: Travels to face Colorado on Saturday.
Utah: Hosts No. 4 Arizona State on Sunday