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No. 11 Arizona holds on to beat Utah 74-73

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TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona watched all of its 13-point lead over Utah disappear. Someone needed to step up and make a shot.

Of course it was Dusan Ristic, the Wildcats’ 7-foot big man, on a contested 3-pointer.

Ristic, 0 for 5 on the season from the arc, hit a 3-pointer in the final two minutes and made all three of his attempts while scoring 23 points, helping No. 11 Arizona hold off Utah 74-73 on Saturday.

“I made two before and I was confident enough to take it,” said Ristic, who eclipsed 1,000 career points with his final 3. “I usually don’t take those, even in practice.”

Despite playing without sophomore guard Rawle Alkins (foot) for the third time in four games, Arizona (18-4, 8-1 Pac-12) appeared to be in control after Ristic’s 3-pointer and two free throws put the Wildcats up four.

Utah rallied from a 13-point, second-half deficit and made it interesting at the end, pulling within 74-73 on Justin Bibbins’ 3-pointer with 4.3 seconds left, then got the ball back after Arizona’s Allonzo Trier was called for an offensive foul before the ball was inbounded.

The Utes (12-9, 4-5) passed the ball inside to Donnie Tillman, but he was unable to hit a contested shot. Arizona’s Keanu Pinder then missed a free throw with 0.3 seconds left and David Collette was well short on a desperation shot from the opposite free throw line.

Sedrick Barefield led Utah with 26 points and keyed a 12-0 second-half run that pushed the Utes into the lead.

“We made enough shots to make it interesting in the end,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “It was a heck of a game and it’s unfortunate anybody has to lose.

Utah avenged an earlier loss on Thursday by knocking off No. 21 Arizona State. Barefield hit a 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds left and the Utes didn’t miss a shot in overtime in the 80-77 victory.

Arizona won the first meeting with Utah 94-82 in Salt Lake City on Jan. 4. Alkins had 22 points in that one, but was in street clothes for the rematch.

The Wildcats didn’t seem to miss their emotional leader, jumping out with a 14-4 run while hitting their first six shots.

The Utes gathered themselves after the early Arizona onslaught and quieted the rowdy McKale Center crowd — at least a little — with a 9-0 run to pull within 31-27 late in the first half.

Arizona kept hitting shots, though, and held Utah scoreless over the final 4:35 to lead 43-33 at halftime. The Wildcats went 16 for 23 from the floor, including 7 of 9 from the 3-point arc.

“We moved the ball well,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “We had an unselfish team.”

The Utes started making shots again in the second half. So did Arizona, keeping the lead to at least 7.

Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Trier each picked up fouls, giving Utah an opportunity.

The Utes took advantage even as Miller rotated both players back in, scoring 12 straight points to take a 66-65 lead with 5 ½ minutes left.

“We have a nice resilience to us and I think our guys are realizing that if you play hard and bring the fight, we have a chance,” Krystkowiak said.

BIG PICTURE

Utah got only a desert split, but beating one ranked team and losing to another in one of the nation’s toughest road environments is a solid trip.

Arizona keeps finding ways to win, is firmly in control of the Pac-12 lead and could move up in Monday’s AP Top 25.

ALKINS UPDATE

Alkins had surgery before the season for a stress fracture in his right foot, causing him to miss Arizona’s first nine games. When the soreness issue started to arise two weeks ago, Arizona decided to take a cautious route, hoping to have him pain free for March.

Miller said Alkins has been through a string of medical tests to see if there’s damage to his foot and nothing has shown up.

“He doesn’t have a fracture of any kind,” he said. “His bone is healing; in some parts it’s completely healed, other parts it’s good healing. But when a player that has a foot like that his that’s been surgically repaired and runs into discomfort all of a sudden, you really just have to shut him down.”

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

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LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn swingman Tyrese Martin, who transferred from Rhode Island in April, has been granted a waiver that will allow him to play for the Huskies this season.

The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds and started every game last season for URI, where he was recruited by current UConn coach Dan Hurley.

NCAA rules require undergraduate transfers to sit out a season, but the organization has been more lenient in granting waivers during the pandemic.

Martin, 21, is expected to compete for playing time at UConn on the wing as both a guard and small forward.