Parker Jackson-Cartwright leads No. 16 Arizona Wildcats past Utah Runnin' Utes

By Anthony Gimino, The Sports Xchange

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Arizona has won its first three Pac-12 games. It would be a different story, coach Sean Miller said, if not for the return of point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright.

Jackson-Cartwright, who missed almost all of seven games because of a high ankle sprain, has 19 assists and only three turnovers since returning last week at Cal. He had nine assists with no turnovers as No. 16 Wildcats (13-2, 3-0 Pac-12) pulled away from Utah 66-56 on Thursday night at McKale Center.


"The game at Cal and tonight's game, I don't believe we would have been on the winning end if he didn't play," Miller said. "Credit to Parker for working hard behind the scenes and being about to get back after four weeks."

One of the beneficiaries of Jackson-Cartwright's passing is center Dusan Ristic, who had 18 points and eight rebounds and fueled a late surge against the Utes (10-4, 1-1).


Ristic made 7 of 10 shots from the field. He also hit all four free throw attempts during a 7-0 run after Utah closed within three points with 5:59 left. Ristic scored eight points in the final six minutes.

He said the offense moves "much, much better" with Jackson-Cartwright on the court. Jackson-Cartwright is the only pure point guard on the roster, although he has been coming off the bench since his return from injury.

"I'm happy that Parker is back," Ristic said.

Power forward Lauri Markkanen finished with 11 points and nine rebounds for Arizona in its conference home opener.

Utah failed to find the range from deep, hitting 4 of 21 3-point attempts while scoring a season low in points. Forward David Collette led the Utes with 13 points. Guard Devon Daniels added 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds.

"We had so many great shots, so many wide-open looks," Collette said. "We just couldn't get them to go."

Arizona led by 13 with 15:54 to go, but Utah whittled its deficit to 51-48 on a short jumper in the lane by Collette with 5:59 left.

The Wildcats posted a 39-27 rebounding edge against Utah, which entered with a margin of plus-10.1 per game, the eighth-best mark in the country.


"They wanted it more," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "You've got to have a little more enthusiasm and come up with those loose balls on the road."

Utah made seven of its first eight shots and took a 15-10 lead before the Wildcats held the Utes scoreless for 6:49 during an 8-0 run, capped by a dunk from center Chance Comanche off an assist from Jackson-Cartwright.

For the rest of the half, Jackson-Cartwright controlled the game against Utah's frequent 2-3 zone, finishing with seven assists before the break. He made a running 18-footer on a fast break at the buzzer to give the Wildcats a 35-27 lead at halftime.

After its hot start from the field, Utah went 6 of 17 the rest of the half.


-- This was the only meeting of the season between Arizona and Utah in the unbalanced Pac-12 schedule.

-- Arizona G Allonzo Trier has yet to play this season because of an unspecified eligibility issue. The school has not commented on a potential timetable for his return.

-- Former Utah guard Andre Miller, retired from the NBA after a 17-year career, was at the game. He's not popular in Tucson because he had a triple-double -- 18 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists -- in the Utes' upset of No. 1 seed Arizona in the 1998 NCAA West Regional final.


-- The Wildcats are the last team in the country to not allow more than 69 points in a game.

-- Arizona coach Sean Miller is 10-1 against Utah, including 5-0 in Tucson.

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