Jan. 5, 2013
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Utah guard Jarred DuBois took the inbound pass, turned and flipped a last-second 3-pointer toward the rim. The ball hit iron, bounced high off the backboard and again caught a piece of the rim before falling harmlessly to the floor.
Given a second straight chance to pull out a close road victory, the Utes came up short again.
Coming off an overtime loss in its conference opener, Utah made it two straight agonizing losses in the desert by falling 60-57 to No. 3 Arizona 60-57 on Saturday.
"It's extremely frustrating because we came so close the past two games," said Utah center Jason Washburn, who had 17 points and 11 rebounds. "When our team plays well enough to win on the road against the No. 3 team in the country and it's taken away from you, I have no words for that."
Utah (8-6, 0-2 Pac-12) lost in overtime to Arizona State in its conference opener and kept Arizona in reach behind its morphing defense and good shooting in the second half.
The Utes pulled to 58-57 when Cedric Martin hit a 3-pointer with 57 seconds left and had a chance take the lead after Arizona's Nick Johnson missed a 3-pointer, but DuBois missed a 3 of his own.
After Lyons' free throws and a foul by Arizona, Utah set up for a final shot and set up DuBois for a good look, but it caromed away.
Jordan Loveridge had 17 points and DuBois added 12 for the Utes, who still haven't won a road or neutral-court conference game since joining the Pac-12 last season.
"A game like that will be frustrating when we don't win," Loveridge said. "I've very proud of my team because we all know that Arizona is a very good team.
The Wildcats have had a knack for eking out victories like this.
Arizona (14-0, 2-0) pulled out a one-point win over Florida in a matchup of top-10 teams on Dec. 15 by scoring seven points in the final 56 seconds.
The Wildcats earned another close victory and the Diamondhead Classic title on Christmas when Nick Johnson swooped in to swat away a shot that secured a one-point win over San Diego State.
Their latest was of a different variety: Instead of rallying to victory, the Wildcats had to hold onto it.
Arizona struggled with Utah's mix of man and zone most of the game, shooting 36 percent. The Wildcats let the Utes slow the pace and ended up with no points on the fast break.
Arizona also had some defensive breakdowns, allowing Loveridge to score 13 points in the first half and Utah to make 14 of 27 shots in the second.
The Wildcats pulled it out, though, thanks to a pair of free throws by Mark Lyons with 7.2 seconds left and some lucky bounces off the rim and backboard on DuBois' shot.
Solomon Hill led Arizona with 19 points, Lyons had 12 and four assists, and Brandon Ashley scored 11 points.
Arizona is off to its best start since opening the 1931-32 season with 16 straight wins, but it hasn't been particularly easy over the past few weeks.
"We are not playing well. We are nowhere where we need to be," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "Sometimes you hit a peak when you're playing so well and think no one in the country can beat you. Once in a while you don't play well and are reminded how difficult it is to win every game. We got through a weekend where the difference was very few points, but we were able to win both."
Arizona pulled off perhaps its best rabbit-out-of-the-hat trick of the season on Thursday, rallying from 16 points down in the second half to beat Colorado 92-83 in overtime.
The Wildcats seemed to catch a break in that one when the officials waved off Sabatino Chen's banked 3-pointer at the end of regulation and pulled away in the extra period.
Arizona was much more crisp at both ends against Utah early, building a 10-point lead in the first half.
But, as has been the case over the past month, the Wildcats couldn't sustain their success, letting Utah get back in it.
After going 7 of 22 from the floor in the first half - Loveridge was 5 of 10 and had all but 10 of their 23 points - the Utes started getting some shots to fall in the second half, pulling to 47-44 midway through on a 3-pointer by Washburn as the shot clock was winding down.
Washburn cut Arizona's lead to 51-50 with 5 1-2 minutes left and the Utes kept hanging around, never letting Arizona get more than four points ahead.
But, just like it did against Arizona State, Utah couldn't get the right shot to fall at the right time and left with another agonizingly-close loss.
"We have to make shots," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "That's what we are not doing."
The Wildcats are making just enough of theirs, but know they can't keep walking such a thin line with almost the entire Pac-12 season still ahead.